President Jacob Zuma and the ANC top six leaders were by late Sunday evening mum about the outcome of their meeting to decide his future as the country’s head of state.
ANC senior officials, led by the party’s deputy president, David Mabuza, met Zuma in Pretoria on Sunrday to discuss his exit timelines following a recent national executive committee (NEC) resolution that he must step down.
By late Sunday evening, Zuma’s spokesperson, Bongani Ngqulunga, had not responded to written questions on the meeting while ANC national communication manager Khusela Diko could not be reached.
The meeting between Zuma and the party leaders took place amid growing calls from both within and outside the ANC for him to step down, with opposition parties demanding that he should leave before Thursday’s State of the Nation Address (Sona).
While ANC secretary-general Ace Magashule has previously stated that the meeting’s agenda would include Zuma’s exit he made it clear that the embattled head of state would deliver Thursday’s Sona.
Since his election as the country’s president in 2009, Zuma had been dogged by allegations of corruption and state capture.
The National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) will during the course of this month decide whether corruption and fraud charges he had previously faced will be reinstated.
Zuma, whose son Duduzane was in business with members of the controversial Gupta family, is also expected to be implicated in allegations of state capture to be probed by the state capture commission of inquiry headed by Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo.
Allegations that the state has been captured by members of the Gupta family, who are also accused of having influenced the appointment of cabinet ministers, have been cited as some of the main factors behind the ANC’s losses in recent elections.
Many of the party’s leaders believe that removing Zuma before the upcoming 2019 national general elections would help the party regain lost support.
By Sunday speculation was rife that while Zuma was unlikely to resist calls from his own party to vacate office, he would resign only after Sona, something likely to invoke the wrath of opposition parties, who want him gone before the address.
Opposition leaders, who have threatened to interdict the Sona should Zuma be allowed to deliver it, will this week meet Parliament Speaker Baleka Mbete in a bid to block the embattled head of state from delivering the Sona.
“When we meet the speaker we will assure her that we want South Africa’s image to be protected but she must heed our call that we don’t want President Jacob Zuma to deliver Sona‚” said United Democratic Movement leader Bantu Holomisa.
Mbete has already acceded to a request by the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) that Zuma should face a motion of no confidence in Parliament.
The motion is due to be debated on February 22, with the EFF already having written to Mbete to request that a secret ballot be used during MPs’ voting.
Party president Cyril Ramaphosa was not part of the ANC top six delegation that met Zuma on Sunday.