Zexit - Here's how the next few days could unfold

2018-02-07 09:25
President Jacob Zuma. (AFP)

President Jacob Zuma. (AFP)

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After the State of the Nation Address (SONA) was postponed on Tuesday and the special meeting of the ANC's national executive committee (NEC) was cancelled, speculation is rife that President Jacob Zuma might soon resign. Political analyst Ralph Mathekga answers questions about how the next few days could unfold. 

There have been a lot of political developments over the past 24 hours. Could it be that we're finally seeing the end of President Jacob Zuma's presidency?

This is no longer about whether Zuma is leaving office, but about the exit package he is negotiating for his departure. The ANC is negotiating the conditions of his departure. There is a new urgency set by the opposition's motion of no confidence, which has forced them to resolve the situation. If they leave it up to Parliament to decide, they lose control of the situation. If Zuma is removed by a motion of no confidence, Cabinet also has to be resolved and the ANC isn't in a position to put together a new Cabinet in a short time.

So, where earlier we had ANC members fighting and talking past each other, they are now dealing with the matter with a new urgency. That is why we are hearing people like the ANC's chief whip Jackson Mthembu asking people to be patient while they handle the situation.

How do we know this isn't just more politicking from the ANC and Zuma?

The ANC's leadership is stepping up to the plate now because, if they don't, their hand will be forced by the opposition. You can tell this from the difference in the tone in how senior ANC members are communicating with the public. They should know that every day they fail to convince Zuma to relinquish power, they are losing the sympathy of their supporters. They are asking for patience, but they won't get it as the public has been waiting for too long for them to show leadership in this matter.

Why was the urgent NEC meeting where Zuma's fate was supposed to be discussed cancelled?

It seems that they have reached some sort of an agreement and therefore the emergency NEC meeting was no longer necessary. They don't have all the details pinned down yet and that's why they are saying there will be further discussions. There must still be an area of disagreement. One has to remember that this isn't simply a matter of replacing Zuma with Cyril Ramaphosa. It's a transition. So ,the discussions will be around what happens to Zuma's Cabinet ministers, his policy decisions on things like, for example, nuclear and, of course, the action the National Prosecuting Authority may take against him.

But what power does Zuma still have to negotiate in this situation?

He knows the power balance in the ANC and while the factions are now much less divided, they haven't necessarily realigned. The Zuma faction is still there and he still has a lot of support. It's a Mugabe standoff. It's a coup that's not a coup. The ANC is embarrassed that it has let the situation get to this due to a lack of cohesiveness when it comes to taking decisions. A political exit package is difficult to pin down. If the ANC forgives Zuma for everything, that compromises the party. It has limitations in what it can write off. Ramaphosa campaigned on an integrity ticket, so he can't simply renege on that. The compromise is probably only possible because Zuma understands that, if he cannot trust his comrades in the ANC to negotiate his exit, he will be leaving his fate to the mercy of the opposition parties.

When can we expect an announcement about Zuma's future?

We all want certainty, but the problem is that no one is completely in control of how the situation unfolds. Everyone is just handling a small part of it. Ramaphosa is negotiating Zuma's exit package, the opposition is threatening with the motion of no confidence, etc. These are extraordinary circumstances after we've had an extraordinary leadership under Zuma. It won't be resolved in a simplistic manner.

Read more on:    jacob zuma  |  anc

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