President Jacob Zuma has done nothing wrong but must tell South Africa on Wednesday that he is resigning anyway.
This is what secretary-general Ace Magashule told journalists on Tuesday during a report back on the special national executive committee sitting that resolved to recall Zuma.
“President Zuma has not been found guilty by any court of law. When we took this decision we did not take this decision because comrade Jacob Zuma has done anything wrong,” Magashule said.
In the late hours of Monday evening, Magashule and ANC president Cyril Ramaphosa left the sitting for Mahlamba Ndlopfu – the presidential guesthouse in Tshwane – to inform Zuma of the decision.
“Last night I went with the president of the ANC to meet comrade President Jacob Zuma to convey and engage him of the fact that the national executive committee is not agreeing to shortening the time in terms of thee to six months and we wanted to hear his views. He was still up, he is very active, very healthy and our discussions were very cordial because we respect him as one of the leaders of the ANC who has contributed immensely in the struggle. So we went there and engaged him and we said the national executive committee is continuing to discuss this, we are going to finalise this matter today, which was last night.”
It’s understood that Zuma wants to be given the chance to preside over a Brics summit scheduled for later this year.
“He said, ‘you know I am a disciplined member of the ANC. I do believe that the national executive committee has a right to take any decision. I am just persuading the national executive committee to take into cognisance that the time in which we are and the period, there are many challenges for the ANC, therefore we should find a way of resolving these challenges amicably and once more plead for that time frame’.
“One of the reasons he requested to stay, remember he is chairing SADC and Brics and it was a fair request and plea. It is just that the ANC felt we can’t wait for that period, the time is too long,” Magashule added.
He denied that Zuma had made any demands or set any conditions for his departure. This followed numerous reports that Zuma had told Ramaphosa that he wanted the state to continue to pay for his legal fees when he left office, that his security complement remained the same and that he chair Wednesday’s Cabinet meeting.
When pressed on whether or not the officials had given Zuma a deadline to resign, Magashule said that was up to Zuma.
“When we recall our deployee we expect our deployee to do what the organisation expects him to do. I don’t know what will happen but let’s leave it to President Jacob Zuma. I believe the national executive committee believes this is an urgent matter so it must be treated with urgency,” Magashule said initially.
Moments later he changed his tune, saying: “We are expecting the president to respond tomorrow. I am sure the president will respond tomorrow, there is no deadline. Tomorrow the president will respond. I don’t know whether you call it a deadline, but I know the president will respond tomorrow and I am sure he will call you as the media.”