President Jacob Zuma is to be recalled. But all indications are that the man will not resign and that he will have to be voted out of office. This will require a vote of no-confidence – or the more difficult procedure of an impeachment, which would strip him of his presidential benefits
The ANC’s national executive committee meeting – which met in Irene – sat for 13 hours, according to various news reports. It opted to recall Jacob Zuma from the office as President of the Republic in terms of 188.8.131.52 of the African National Congress constitution. This allows the party to sign deployment contracts with public representatives and recall any public representative.
It is reported that he has been given 48 hours to hand in his resignation, but this is not expected. It was reported that President Zuma told Cyril Ramaphosa, the new ANC leader, and the secretary general, Ace Magashule, that he wanted three months more in office so he could attend BRICS and African Union summits before leaving office. EWN reported that when the two leaders went to Zuma to tell him that the NEC wanted him to resign or he would face being recalled, he told them to “do what they want to do”.
The NEC deliberated further and decided to recall him.
President Zuma is also digging in his heels over the terms he has set to leave office. He wants his security detail to remain intact – and he also wants any legal fees arising out of the battery of cases against him to be covered by the state.
The stage appears to have been set for a vote of no-confidence in parliament. There is already one on the 22nd of February – sought by opposition parties, including the Economic Freedom Fighters. However, opposition parties want the vote of no-confidence to be brought forward.
Last week, the Speaker of the national assembly, Baleka Mbete, postponed the State of the Nation address, which was due to have taken place on Thursday the 8th of February. Zuma was set to deliver the address. She announced that a new date for the State of the Nation would be announced as soon as possible.
It is possible that Mbete will accept a motion from the ANC for a vote of no-confidence in the president, which would be politically less messy that for the party to support an opposition motion. Last year, more than 20 MPs from the governing party supported a motion of no-confidence in President Zuma – but the motion of no-confidence was still defeated.
This time a vote of no-confidence is likely to be supported by a significant majority of Members of Parliament, as it would now have the official backing of the ANC.
EWN reported that national executive committee members – 80 of them, plus the top six members of the national working committee – started filing out of the Irene venue just before 3 a.m. on Tuesday.
Official opposition Democratic Alliance federal council chairperson James Selfe said it was “unthinkable that Zuma would demand a continuation of his security detail and state-funded legal fees”. Selfe suggested that the president should take up residence at a state-funded prison.
Selfe was reacting to reports that Zuma demanded state-guaranteed safety for himself and his family, that his security details remain in place and that his legal fees for current and future legal matters be paid for by the people of South Africa – the taxpayers.
The spy tapes case alone was estimated to have cost R30 million or more in legal fees, said Selfe. “If Zuma’s demands are met by the ANC, it would be a damning indictment on the ANC President Cyril Ramaphosa, who has chosen to negotiate a dignified exit for the man faced with 783 counts of corruption, fraud, money-laundering and racketeering.” He was also at the heart of the Nkandla scandal and he was the one “who likely facilitated state capture”, said Selfe.
“Zuma has cost the people of South Africa enough. Taxpayers’ money can be put to better use in addressing the disastrous legacy of the Zuma presidency,” said Selfe.
It is not clear just when a vote of no-confidence will be held – or whether the ANC will go for the impeachment route. This requires a two-thirds vote in parliament, rather than a 50 percent plus one majority.
For a vote of no-confidence to be passed, the required majority would be 201 votes – 50 percent of the National Assembly’s 400 MPs, plus one.
Should this be carried, President Zuma – and Deputy President Ramaphosa – and all his ministers and deputy ministers would need to resign. For an interim period of 30 days, Baleka Mbete, the Speaker, would then act as president.
A new president would need to be be elected within 30 days after the vacancy of presidency. The chief justice would preside over the election of the new president. It is widely expected that the ANC will nominate its party president, Cyril Ramaphosa, as president.
If this does not happen – no president is elected – then a new general election would need to be held within 90 days – three months – of the ending of the 30 day period. This is an unlikely scenario, but South Africa could just see itself going to the polls in July.