Johannesburg – By resigning as president, Jacob Zuma has been spared from yet another vote of no confidence in Parliament, the ANC said on Thursday night.
"It has been going on for almost three to four years and we believe that we do need to give this comrade respect and also spare him the humiliation of the ongoing votes of no confidence that come to Parliament," ANC deputy secretary general Jessie Duarte said.
Speaking shortly after the resignation, Duarte welcomed the move and said Zuma was well within his rights to ask the party for the reasons that led to him being recalled.
Earlier on Thursday, in an exclusive interview with the SABC, Zuma said the party had not given him sufficient reasons as to why it was recalled. He felt that the decision to do so was unfair towards him.
Responding, Duarte said: "I think that President Zuma is within his rights to request reasons or [for wanting to know] what his transgressions are".
"I certainly think that the ANC leadership will make an effort to sit down with comrade Zuma and discuss in detail what might have been the issues that brought us to the point where we were when the NEC met."
However, Duarte said, it was important not to further humiliate Zuma.
"A critical consideration for all of us to remember [is] we have been through weeks and months of haranguing of our president Zuma by the media and the opposition. That should not be the reason why one recalls a deployee."
Duarte added that the party will sit down with Zuma to discuss some of the issues that led to him being recalled, "before venturing into a slaughterhouse of opinion against him".
She said the ruling party was aware of the opposition's intentions to remove it from power.
"We are not naïve about the intentions of the opposition in this country. We are not celebrating the fact that we have had to recall a cadre of the movement that has served this organisation for over sixty years."
Duarte said this was not a small matter and not a cause for celebration.
"What we need to do is to move forward and we know that, as we go to Parliament, the opposition will nominate and vote for their own candidates and vote against the candidate of the ANC. We are very much aware of that."
"Their intentions are not intentions that should concern us for now."
‘A very painful moment’
She responded to Zuma's question: "What did I do wrong?" and said the party would be addressing Zuma personally and not make the announcement in the media.
On Zuma's supporters leaving the party Duarte said: "Whenever a figure as solidly entrenched in the ANC as comrade Zuma is, there will be voices that cry out aloud."
"I think we have, and we are dealing with it. We are sending out all our NEC members this weekend to 54 regions of the country to go out and explain to ANC membership why the ANC NEC took the decision that they took."
Duarte said Zuma had also assured the party that he would help it retain its membership.
"We trust and hope that all those people who find this a very painful moment, and I can assure you that it is painful, very painful, will work with the ANC and not walk away from it."
Duarte said members who believed in the real values of the organisation will not walk away because one individual was no longer there.
"We are not members of anyone else, we are members of the organisation so hopefully that is the way that we will go," Duarte added.