South Africa’s governing party, the ANC, has resolved to recall President Jacob Zuma following protracted talks that ended early Tuesday morning.
The ANC’s powerful National Executive Committee (NEC) met for 13 hours at a hotel outside Pretoria, and decided it would “recall” Zuma from his job as national president.
Eyewitness News reports that when the decision to recall the president was first communicated to him by party chieftains, he told them to “do what you want to do”.
Zuma reportedly later agreed to resign but asked for three months to stay in office to enable him attend the forthcoming AU meeting and BRICS summits but the NEC turned down the request.
The NEC is said to have decided to swear in ANC president and state deputy president Cyril Ramaphosa as the next president.
Ramaphosa, the de-facto president-in-waiting, had been in negotiations with Zuma who rejected an earlier request from party leaders to step down more than a week ago.
“We know you want closure… Because our people want this matter to be finalised, the NEC will be doing precisely that,” Ramaphosa told a party rally in Cape Town on Sunday.
Sunday’s rally was part of ANC celebrations marking 100 years since Nelson Mandela’s birth — as well as efforts by Ramaphosa to revive the party’s reputation ahead of next year’s general election.
The ANC will now invoke the relevant section of its constitution that deals with the recall of the president.
The party committee can “recall” the head of state, essentially forcing him to step down, but he is under no constitutional obligation to obey.
South African opposition parties on Monday called for early elections as the ANC’s leadership battle continued.
“We must proceed to the dissolution of parliament… subsequent to that, we move on to an early election,” Democratic Alliance (DA) party leader Mmusi Maimane told reporters, speaking alongside several opposition parties.
EFF leader Julius Malema has also called for the dissolution of parliament.
“Once they remove Zuma, parliament must be dissolved because the constitutional court made a ruling that parliament failed to discharge its responsibility when it couldn’t protect the public protector, including holding Zuma accountable,” Malema said.
Malema is adamant that it is not just Zuma who created what he called ‘this political mess’ but also the ANC.
The president also faces a vote of no confidence motion. He had survived 8 such previous motions but the opposition wants the 9th one immediately and not next week as scheduled by parliament speaker Baleka Mbete.
Zuma was billed to stand down next year after serving the maximum two terms after coming to power in 2009.
Zuma has not spoken publicly since February 4 when he was first asked by the party top leadership to resign.
The ANC is expected to give details of its decision at a press conference scheduled for midday on Tuesday.
NP/Tony Ekata/ Lateefah Ibrahim