Cyril: Zuma must go now

2018-01-22 13:45
ANC president Cyril Ramaphosa

ANC president Cyril Ramaphosa (File)

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ANC leader Cyril Ramaphosa, who has been pushing for a dignified exit for President Jacob Zuma, now wants the besieged head of state to vacate office as a matter of urgency.

By Sunday afternoon it was not clear whether Ramaphosa — who held a meeting with Zuma on Friday shortly after the NEC’s resolution — had asked the head of state to quit.

However, sources close to Ramaphosa confirmed to The Witness that he had ditched his conciliatory approach.

Proof that Zuma’s removal was imminent includes the embattled leader’s cancellation of a planned trip to Liberia for the inauguration of that country’s president-elect George Weah on Monday.

Ramaphosa’s change of tactic was prompted by Zuma’s decision to appeal a high court judgment that Ramaphosa, and not Zuma, should appoint the next National Prosecuting Authority head.

“This appeal thing has really made it difficult for Cyril to convince members of the National Executive Committee [NEC], particularly those who had been calling for Zuma’s removal, that talks between him and Zuma were yielding the desired results.

“It [the decision to appeal] created the impression that Zuma wanted to use his remaining days in office to sabotage the ANC chances of winning next year’s election by continuing to project the party as an organisation bent on blocking all efforts meant to address corruption in government,” a source close to Ramaphosa said.

However, the NEC on Friday resolved that he should not be allowed to complete his term as president of the country, with the body mandating Ramaphosa and his colleagues in the ANC’s top six leadership structure to decide the date on which Zuma should leave office.

“Ramaphosa was previously of the view that Zuma should be allowed to deliver next month’s State of the Nation Address [Sona] but this is no longer the case, he has now accepted that it is in the interest of both the ANC and the country for Zuma to leave as soon as possible,” another source said.

The NEC, which met in Irene outside Pretoria on Thursday and Friday, discussed the matter around Zuma’s recall despite attempts by Ramaphosa and other top six leaders to keep the matter off the agenda.

ANC secretary-general Ace Magashule had prior to the meeting told the media that Zuma’s recall would not be up for discussion.

However, there was very little Magashule and other leaders could do on Friday when new NEC member David Masondo raised the motion to recall Zuma.

“The fact that the motion was unanimously supported confirms the view that an overwhelming number of ANC leaders now see Zuma as the biggest threat to the party’s chances of winning the 2019 national general elections.

“Ramaphosa can’t afford to be seen to be protecting Zuma. I will be surprised if Zuma were still to be president by next week,” the source said.

In an attempt to save face and downplay the NEC’s resolution, Magashule in his media statement said the ANC’s highest decision-making body between conferences had simply asked Ramaphosa to continue his meetings with Zuma.

He did not mention that the body had actually resolved that Zuma should be recalled.

The NEC resolution was confirmation that those members who previously supported Zuma have now switched their allegiance and are now fully behind Ramaphosa.

The Mkhonto weSizwe Military Veterans Association (MKMVA), which previously warned of dire consequences should Zuma be recalled, yesterday welcome the NEC decision.

“As soldiers we have no other option but to support the NEC’s decision, no matter how painful the decision might be,” MKMVA president Kebby Maphatsoe said.

During Zuma’s tenure as ANC leader, leaders of the youth and women’s leagues were known for squashing any attempts within the NEC for him to be recalled. On Friday, however, ANCWL spokesperson Thoko Xasa declined to say whether members of the league had given the leadership in the NEC a mandate to defend Zuma.

Zuma’s spokesperson, Bongani Ngqulunga, could not be reached to confirm the request to recall Zuma.


Read more on:    pietermaritzburg  |  president jacob zuma

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