ANC: 'Go now'

2018-02-12 23:00
President Jacob Zuma’s fate was being debated on Monday by the ANC’s national executive committee, which started closed-door talks at 2pm. By the time of going to press late last night, there was no news.

President Jacob Zuma’s fate was being debated on Monday by the ANC’s national executive committee, which started closed-door talks at 2pm. By the time of going to press late last night, there was no news. (Nelius Rademan (Foto24))

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UPDATE: Follow Zexit developments live with News24

The ANC NEC was late last night reported to have decided to tell President Jacob Zuma that he must resign or be recalled, and given him 48 hours to react.

News24 reported a source inside the NEC as saying party president Cyril Ramaphosa and secretary-general Ace Magashule had left the meeting venue to deliver the news to Zuma.

There was no official confirmation or announcement by the time of going to press.

Ramaphosa’s car was seen leaving the St George’s Hotel at Irene outside Pretoria, where domestic and international journalists had been camped for hours, awaiting the news the country had been promised.

Unlike at previous NEC meetings where journalists were able to communicate with individuals inside the talks, there was a complete information blackout, with rumours that NEC members were barred from bringing their cellphones into the venue.

Ramaphosa had raised expectations when he announced in Cape Town on Sunday that the matter around Zuma’s future was on the verge of being finalised.

Zuma, facing allegations of state capture, could also face criminal charges should the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) decide to reinstate charges of corruption and fraud that were withdrawn shortly before he became the country’s president in 2009.

Ramaphosa, who called Monday’s meeting following what sources claimed was the collapse of the week-long exit talks between him and Zuma, is under pressure to get the president axed.

Expectations were high that the ANC, which does not have the power to remove Zuma from office, was going use Monday’s NEC meeting to recall Zuma and initiate parliamentary processes to remove him from power.

However, failure by the ANC to communicate the NEC’s decision on Zuma’s recall left ordinary citizens, civil organisations and opposition more confused than before.

“It is difficult for South Africans to understand why the ANC is taking so long to make such a straightforward decision. People are beginning to doubt whether this new ANC leadership has what is required to pull out the country from the challenges it is currently facing,” Save South Africa convener Sipho Pityana said.

Mounting calls for Zuma to be removed as the country’s president last week resulted in Parliament postponing the State of the Nation Address (Sona) that was previously scheduled to be delivered by Zuma last week.

Political analyst Mcebisi Mdletyana said the fact that the ANC had not yet removed Zuma several weeks after indicating its willingness to recall him showed that he was using every loophole to avoid being removed from power. “It appears he is even willing to bring the ANC house down if that would mean him clinging on to power,” he said.

In the late afternoon, hopes of a resolution were raised when the SABC reported that Zuma had agreed to step down.

However, this report was dismissed by both the ANC and the Presidency, which described it as “fake news”.

Call to dissolve Parliament: opposition also wants a say

News24 — Parliament must be dissolved because it was also complicit in President Jacob Zuma’s failure to uphold the Constitution, opposition parties have argued.

Opposition parties o Monday upped the pressure on the ANC by calling for Parliament’s dissolution if Zuma is removed through a scheduled EFF motion of no confidence.

“Everyone in South Africa has called for the removal of Jacob Zuma,” DA leader Mmusi Maimane said at a press briefing in Parliament. “In the context of that, we can’t be spectators to the ANC’s internal factions. Let us go to Parliament and remove Zuma.”

The plan, therefore, is to debate the EFF’s motion as soon as possible, and, if successful, table a second motion calling for Parliament’s dissolution.

The EFF’s strategic tabling of its motion ensures it will be the first of its nature to be debated on the subject, and would have a chance of passing if the ANC’s national executive committee orders Zuma to be recalled.

The parties argue that, were the ANC to vote with the opposition on the EFF’s motion, they would be agreeing to the same reasons for Zuma’s removal.

Those reasons in the motion are that Zuma failed to uphold the Constitution during the Nkandla debacle, as ruled by the Constitutional Court in 2016.

Parliament was also implicated in that judgment, for failing to hold the president to account on the matter.

If the ANC agrees to remove Zuma on those grounds, it must therefore also dissolve Parliament for the same reasons.

The ANC caucus could choose to amend the EFF’s motion on the day though, to take out the explicit reasons for Zuma’s removal. Deputy Speaker Lechesa Tsenoli on Monday said Parliament was “consulting” on the request to move the date to this week.

The dissolution motion is unlikely to take place on the same day as a motion of no confidence, however. Section 50 of the Constitution states that, if a president is removed through a motion of no confidence, and his entire cabinet resigns, then there is only one item on the agenda: to elect a new president within 30 days.

Baleka Mbete as Speaker assumes the presidency until a new member is elected from among the members within the time period, Section 90 confirms.

Parliament will, therefore, be free to debate the subject, only after a new permanent president is appointed. If no president is elected within 30 days, Parliament dissolves anyway.

Mbete assumes the presidency for a further 90 days, and new elections must be held within that period. Cabinet continues its duties in the interim until a new president is sworn in.

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