ANC chief whip's office distances itself from 'false' caucus meeting allegations on Zuma resignation

President Jacob Zuma. (Jaco Marais, Gallo Images, Beeld, file)
President Jacob Zuma. (Jaco Marais, Gallo Images, Beeld, file)

Cape Town – The office of the ANC chief whip has distanced itself from reports that party president Cyril Ramaphosa apparently told the ANC parliamentary caucus that President Jacob Zuma would resign on Saturday and that he would not be granted immunity. 

The reports were "false" and the intention was to negatively disturb the "fruitful and constructive engagement" between Ramaphosa and Zuma around the question of transition, Nonceba Mhlauli, spokesperson for ANC chief whip Jackson Mthembu, said on Thursday.

Earlier, News24 reported that according to sources, Ramaphosa had told the party's parliamentary caucus that immunity from prosecution for Zuma was not part of "transition" discussions.

READ: No immunity for Zuma - Ramaphosa tells ANC caucus

He is said to have also assured MPs that the talks would be concluded in a "day or two".

Ramaphosa addressed the caucus on Thursday, flanked by party secretary general Ace Magashule and chief whip Mthembu.

But Mhlauli said the "ANC in Parliament respects the ongoing engagement and eagerly awaits its imminent conclusion".

Parliament's work continuing

Meanwhile, Parliament said in a statement that it is continuing with its normal business despite the postponement of the State of the Nation Address (SONA).

National Assembly Speaker Baleka Mbete and chairperson of the National Council of Provinces (NCOP) Thandi Modise announced on Tuesday  the unprecedented move to indefinitely postpone SONA. 

They cited "that there is little likelihood of an uneventful joint sitting of Parliament this coming Thursday" as a reason for the postponement.

Spokesperson Moloto Mothapo said Parliament's work, which resumed during the first week of January, was continuing in line with the Constitution.

"SONA has been informally referred to as 'the opening of Parliament', as it is often the first plenary House sitting of the year. However, this does not mean that until SONA takes place Parliament is closed or its work is suspended," he explained.

Mothapo added that the 2018 parliamentary programme kicked off on January 7 with the meeting of the subcommittee on the review of the rules of the National Assembly which are convened to deal with amendments of rules governing the impeachment of a sitting president.

Budget speech not affected

Since the beginning of the year more than 40 committee meetings have been held and committees also conducted several oversight visits in provinces, Mothapo said.

The NCOP held its two-day mid-term review to scrutinise activities this week.

"Everything is being done to ensure that the broader policy and programme pronouncements, followed by debates and budget approval, remain on course, as they are important to service delivery."

Mothapo said that Parliament had ensured that the budget speech, scheduled for February 21 was not affected or delayed by the SONA postponement.

"Parliament reassures South Africans that efforts are being undertaken also to minimise the cost implications of the postponement."

He said the overall spending on the 2018 SONA remains within the budgeted R4.3m.

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