Opposition slams ANC’s ‘mess’ as a defiant Zuma digs in his heels

 Jacob Zuma Picture: Nelius Rademan
Jacob Zuma Picture: Nelius Rademan

As South Africans woke up to the news that the ANC national executive committee had resolved to recall President Jacob Zuma on Tuesday morning, opposition politicians turned their attention from Zuma to the party, saying it needed to “sort out its mess”.

The ANC is expected to brief the media on Tuesday afternoon on the outcomes of the committee’s 13-hour-long marathon meeting held in Irene, outside Pretoria.

It is understood that following Zuma’s refusal to resign immediately as head of state, the party’s highest decision making body resolved to recall him, invoking the clause in the African National Congress constitution that gives the structure the powers to recall a public representative.

The party is expected to write to Zuma on Tuesday morning, informing him of its decision.

Read: ANC to recall Zuma after he refuses to resign

Bantu Holomisa, on Twitter, urged the ANC to not waste South Africans’ time. He believed the party had “failed South Africans” and needed to join the opposition in a vote of no confidence to “sort out your mess”.

The ANC is under pressure to decide on Zuma’s fate as opposition parties have demanded that Speaker Baleka Mbete move forward a motion of no confidence tabled by the Economic Freedom Fighters. Mbete responded to say she needed more time to consult with the party’s leader, Cyril Ramaphosa.

The EFF has given her a new deadline of 1pm on Tuesday to decide on a new date for the motion.

The Democratic Alliance’s national spokesperson Phumzile van Damme said that if Ramaphosa had influence and power within the ANC, he would be able to give direction and convince the national executive to recall Zuma.

“He clearly hasn’t been able to do that. And he is the great hope to fix the ANC? I’m sorry, but no.”

The urgent meeting started at 2pm on Monday and ended at 3am on Tuesday.

At 11pm, the national executive committee instructed party president Ramaphosa and secretary-general Ace Magashule to drive to Zuma’s official residence Mahlamba Ndlopfu in Pretoria, to give him an ultimatum to resign or face a recall.

That meeting lasted less than an hour, with Zuma refusing to comply. Ramaphosa and Magashule delivered that news to the national executive committee meeting at midnight. The venue was on lockdown in the hour that the two left to meet Zuma and returned.

National executive committee sources told News24 that during the trio’s meeting, Zuma was still asking “what he did wrong”.

“Zuma told Ramaphosa and Magashule that he would respond to them publicly when the party informs him of the decision to recall him,” a source said.

Zuma is said to have demanded to stay on at the Union Buildings for another three months to attend at least two upcoming events. The national executive committee, however, rejected his conditions.

Sources insisted that Zuma wanted to still be head of state when the Brics summit is held and he wanted attend another African Union meeting.

The Brics summit is scheduled for July in Sandton, which would mean Zuma would stay for five months. Zuma pioneered South Africa’s entry to join the Brazil, Russia, India and China grouping.

“We can’t allow him to stay on. He has disrespected the organisation. The party also needs to move on, we need to have State of the Nation, we need investors to come back,” a source said.

ANC senior member Enoch Godongwana is said to have led the charge for Zuma to go. He is said to have argued that in light of the State Capture inquiry investigating Zuma’s relationship with the Guptas, threat of impeachment and a motion of no confidence against him, recalling him was “saving Zuma from himself”.

However, Zuma is said to have been defended by several members, including ANC Women’s league secretary general Meokgo Matuba and North West Premier Supra Mahumapelo.

They are said to have argued that the national executive committee never gave the top six officials a mandate to recall Zuma but instead to negotiate a transition.

The sources who spoke to News24 on condition of anonymity, could not say if the meeting had decided on the next step if Zuma refused to resign.

Earlier, News24 reported that if Zuma had refused to resign even after a decision to recall him, the battleground would move to Parliament. In the past, the ANC had called it the “worst form of betrayal” of the party if its MPs voted with the opposition. – Additional reporting by News24

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