The ANC’s national executive committee has, indeed, backed the recall of President Jacob Zuma. ANC secretary general Ace Magashule confirmed, Tuesday, that the president has been informed of this. However, there are no African National Congress plans to seek a vote of no confidence in the president, as it expects the president to abide by the decision of the NEC. Magashule said President Zuma would made an announcement on Wednesday.
At a press conference at ANC HQ, Magashule said that path was now set for Cyril Ramaphosa, the deputy president, to assume the presidency of the country. He also expected Ramaphosa to deliver the State of the Nation address. He acknowledged that in talks with President Jacob Zuma, the president had sought “three to six months” more in office.
Zuma had argued that he needed to chair upcoming summits of BRICS, as well as the regional group, SADC. But the national executive committee had felt that this was too long a time-frame – and they wanted Zuma to go imminently. One of the key reasons for a shortened transition term was that socio-economic conditions needed to be sorted out by the changed leadership of the ANC. This was at the forefront of the ANC’s national executive committee’s minds.
However, no time limit was placed on Zuma to resign his office, although it is generally accepted that he would do so within 48 hours. “We expect the president to respond tomorrow (Wednesday). There is no deadline. Tomorrow the president will respond. I know he will respond tomorrow,” said Magashule.
Asked when he himself had switched sides from Zuma to Ramaphosa, Magashule acknowledged that when President Jacob Zuma was the president of the ruling party, it was incumbent upon him to support his president. “Yes I favoured President Jacob Zuma,” said Magashule, “I supported him because he was president of the ANC.” Clearly the political reality had now changed, but he did not dwell on the matter.
Magashule noted that the Economic Freedom Fighters had already sought a vote of no-confidence. There were no plans, he said, for the ANC to back any vote of no-confidence – or to bring one of their own, he said.
Pressed again on whether his party would vote ‘yes’ or ‘no’ in a vote of no-confidence in Zuma, he said: “As a revolutionary party I don’t know whether we will support a vote of no-confidence. The role of the opposition is to oppose what the governing party is doing… there will always be party lines. You can’t be a party member and (while) you vote with your conscience.
One journalist said it was now clear that Ramphosa would be president of the country in due course, but she asked who would be his deputy president of the country? Magashule said: “We have not finalised that matter… I don’t know. It is a matter for the president (of the ANC) and the national executive committee to decide. There will definitely be a deputy president.”
Asked if the ANC could split over the recall of Zuma, he said simply: “I don’t know about the split.”
Karima Brown, a political commentator for eNCA, said she believed there was still a fall-back position for the ANC caucus to take radical action against Zuma, such as a vote of no-confidence. This would apply if Zuma did not resign imminently. The parliamentary caucus is set to meet on Wednesday.
“President Zuma, in my view, will resign,” said Brown. This would imply that votes of no-confidence would then fall away. President Zuma “has the ability” to spare the ANC the politically unpalatable problem of supporting an opposition motion of no-confidence, she said. “The writing is on the wall… this can only go one way (that Zuma will go).”
Magashule was emphatic that Ramaphosa was expected to deliver the State of the Nation address at the delayed opening of parliament.
Asked about all the legal challenges facing Zuma, Magashule said that Zuma had not been found guilty in court of anything.