Zuma exit needs to be prioritised

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(AFP)
(AFP)

The new leadership of the ANC has to prioritise President Jacob Zuma's exit as the president of the country. Given the delicate power balance in the party as reflected in the composition of the newly elected National Executive Committee (NEC), it is important for all factions that are represented in the NEC to realise that it is in no one's interest - neither even those of his staunchest allies - for President Jacob Zuma to be allowed to continue as the president of the country.

It would be a travesty if Zuma were to deliver the 2018 State of the Nation address, and also be allowed to continue with the ill-fated court route to challenge Advocate Thuli Madonsela's recommendations on a state capture investigation.

Reports are coming out that meetings are planned to negotiate Zuma's exit. What makes the situation more urgent is that Zuma seems to be willing to go all the way in pushing back against the court's ruling that he should not be the one appointing the judge who is to chair the commission of inquiry into state capture.

On another legal front, Zuma is also pushing back against the court's ruling that his dismissal of former top prosecutor Mxolisi Nxasana was illegal, and so is his subsequent replacement of Nxasana by Shaun Abrahams. These two cases show how Zuma has abused his executive prerogative as a president because of his personal concern that he might have to answer on charges of corruption, and also his involvement or complicity in state capture.

Zuma should not be fired or recalled, he should firstly be allowed to resign peacefully. While the ANC has no right to offer Zuma a deal that infringes upon the functioning of our institutions - such as the decisions to prosecute Zuma - members of the party have to manage Zuma's exit by negotiating with him and making some form of a deal.

Zuma is in Mugabe's situation; he will try to stay on because he knows and feels that some of those who replace him and his crew within the ANC are not significantly better than him. He knows the extent to which ANC members are compromised due to their involvement in corruption. He will try to play this card. However, he no longer has the powers he had before the party's contentious elective conference held a week ago in Nasrec.

As to what deal the ANC would have to offer Zuma; it is entirely up to the party. However, the deal should not affect the functioning of the criminal justice system in relation to Zuma.

South Africans should not be made to stand by as their institutions and laws are trampled upon in order to accommodate Zuma; a problem that the ANC created and repeatedly failed to correct when given an opportunity to do so.

- Ralph Mathekga is a Fellow at the SARChI Chair: African Diplomacy and Foreign Policy at the University of Johannesburg and author of When Zuma Goes.

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