The ANC’s top leadership will today formally ask President Jacob Zuma to step down, according to City Press report.
The newspaper reported that Zuma will agree to leave soon, but only after delivering the state of the nation address (Sona).
The swift convening of the do-or-die meeting signals that interactions between Zuma and ANC president Cyril Ramaphosa to defuse tensions between Luthuli House and the Union Buildings have not made significant progress, hastening the call for Zuma’s downfall.
City Press has heard that a special sitting of the NEC will be convened if Zuma and the officials do not come to an agreement today.
But those close to Zuma say he may not need to be forced, because as a “deployee of the ANC”, the president is likely to accede to a request to step down, if he is asked officially to do so.
They said that up to now, nobody has officially asked him to resign. His children have, however, previously made the proposal, in light of widespread anti-Zuma sentiment and allegations of corruption.
The online publication added that many, if not most, will hope that Cyril Ramaphosa, the party’s newly-elected president, will assume the state presidency immediately rather than entertaining the nonsense of the party electing an “interim president”.
Zuma’s supporters are strongly supportive of the idea of an interim president. It has its roots in the previous succession drama that unfolded after the ANC forced Thabo Mbeki to resign as the country’s president in September 2008. Kgalema Motlanthe, the ANC’s then deputy president, stepped up to the plate to serve in his place until the party president – Zuma – assumed office following the general election in May 2009. It has never been revealed why Zuma did not become state president directly, although it’s clear that they intended Motlanthe was to become a cypher, subject to Zuma’s control.
This precedent is now being bandied about as established practice that has to be followed. But there’s no getting round the fact that it’s being pursued by Zuma and his supporters for dubious reasons. In short, they want to put the brakes on the transition to a Ramaphosa presidency so that they can protect and further their personal interests.
Zuma, in particular, wants to place continuing political obstacles in the way of his being subject to prosecution through the courts on 783 criminal charges. The charges go back to before he assumed office. And there are lingering hopes among his closest acolytes that they can push through a deal with the Russians on nuclear power before their rule ends.