Johannesburg – The ANC’s National Executive Committee (NEC) members will seal President Jacob Zuma’s fate when they meet on Monday afternoon, as hope for a speedy resolution dwindles among South Africans who want him out of office.
NEC members also want the meeting to affirm party president Cyril Ramaphosa as Zuma’s successor as state president.
The ANC called the urgent NEC meeting following Ramaphosa’s direct talks with Zuma. An emergency NEC meeting that was meant to happen last Wednesday was cancelled by Ramaphosa after his Tuesday meeting with Zuma.
Cautious NEC members want the party’s highest decision making body, between conferences, to also give the Parliamentary caucus a mandate to support a motion of no confidence against Zuma in case he defies the NEC decision to recall him.
“But then people are able to defy [that recall], that is why we need the parliamentary process. So it will end tomorrow because if we say step down and he refuses, then the ball shifts to Parliament.”
Ramaphosa did not give much insights into his talks with Zuma when he delivered the first keynote address at the Grand Parade in Cape Town on Sunday to mark 28 years since late former president Nelson Mandela’s release from prison.
“As leadership of the ANC we are currently engaged in discussions around the transition to a new administration and specifically to resolve the issues of the position of the president of the Republic,” Ramaphosa said.
He did not mention Zuma by name, but said the NEC will finalise the matter. Zuma refused to step down two Sundays ago when he met with the party’s top six.
“Zuma has humiliated the ANC enough, we must end this thing on Monday,” another NEC member told News24.
The Economic Freedom Fighters have already tabled motion of no confidence in Zuma, due to be heard on February 22. However, ANC members said that would be too late, as the State of the Nation Address (SONA) should be delivered before then.
Last week Parliament took an unprecedented step to indefinitely postpone SONA amidst ANC wrangling over Zuma’s continued stay at the Union Buildings.
‘Looking at options’
A long and drawn out debate is expected at the NEC meeting to be held in Irene at 14:00 on Monday, with Zuma still enjoying support from some Cabinet ministers who also sit in the NEC. Zuma has survived two other motions of no confidence tabled before the NEC.
ANC Youth League secretary general Njabulo Nzuza, who has defended Zuma throughout his tenure, told News24 that the NEC has other options beyond recalling him.
“The transition is not about the removal of President Zuma, but we could be looking at options of giving the [country’s] deputy president [Ramaphosa] more responsibility which is not something new. It happened when President Mandela handed over to Thabo Mbeki, the transition worked well.
“Rather than saying President Zuma simply go, we should be looking at this from an honest point of view, [and] not [be] vindictive,” Nzuza said.
He is expected to be at odds with his president in the league, Collen Maine, who is expected to back Zuma’s removal.
NEC members have defended Ramaphosa for failing to give details on his ongoing talks with Zuma.
He is expected to report back to the NEC when he delivers his political overview.
“It would have been out of order. He can’t address things before giving a report to the NEC. The NEC will decide if there is a stalemate and it will give instruction on next step,” an NEC member said.
However, party treasurer-general Paul Mashatile is expected to come under fire for disclosing to investors details of the top six meeting with Zuma.
In a leaked audio recording of his address, Mashatile told investors who attended the mining indaba that Zuma had refused to step down.
“The problem is we have ill-disciplined people like Mashatile who go and discuss internal matters with random people who are said to be investors, where there has been no decision,” Nzuza said.