Zuma recall expected, but resignation not

Social media image of President Jacob Zuma.

Commentators from a variety of media are predicting that today is the day, the day of the announcement of the recall of President Jacob Zuma. Even a former acolyte of Zuma, Karima Brown, said on eNCA that she expected the president to be recalled – but she also said that it could not be expected that he will resign. That will mean that parliament is likely to kick-in with a vote of no-confidence.

A special national executive meeting of the ruling African National Congress is being called today, Monday, to discuss the future of President Zuma. EWN reported that party president Cyril Ramaphosa had promised – at a centennial celebration in honour of the late President Nelson Mandela on Sunday – that the gathering would, indeed, finalise talks on the matter.

People “want closure on the matter”, the ANC president and country’s deputy president, Ramaphosa, said at the Mandela memorial rally marking what would have been the late president’s centennial in Cape Town on Sunday. “Our people want this matter to be finalised.” Ramaphosa was at pains to emphasise that South Africa was being put first in the discussions with President Zuma.

The 86-member national executive committee meeting – to be held from 2pm today at Irene – was called by the ANC’s national working committee, with the task of recalling Zuma. Most media then led with stories last week that they expected Zuma to resign.

However, talks continued over the weekend, with Zuma apparently making demands that his legal fees be paid in forthcoming legal actions – including the state capture legal processes – against him.

A vote of no-confidence is already scheduled for 22 February. This has been sought by the opposition parties including the Democratic Alliance and Economic Freedom Fighters. However, the opposition leaders want a vote of no-confidence before the state of the nation is held – and they are calling on the Speaker of the National Assembly to bring that vote forward.

While a day is a long time in politics – Zuma may agree to terms set by the national executive committee and choose to resign – it looks now as if a vote of no-confidence is likely.

If the ANC side with the opposition, Zuma will be forced to leave office. For an interim period, the Speaker of the National Assembly will act as president until a new president is elected. That means that Baleka Mbete would stand in as president.

If, however, the president does the unexpected thing – he resigns – the deputy president would become acting president. However, the national assembly would be called to vote for a new president – and it is likely that Ramaphosa will be elected as president of the nation.

It is not clear whether the ANC will be given a vote of conscience again in a vote of no confidence if this is held – or whether they will face a three-line whip to oppose the president. Either way, the vote is likely to pass – even if a significant chunk of the ANC remains loyal to the president.

EWN reported that there would be protests at the Union Buildings in Tshwane today. Elements of the ANC and SA Communist Party are set to march to the administrative headquarters of government. They were expected to congregate at the Union Buildings at noon – and would remain there until late afternoon.


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