ANC top six will discuss 'options' with Zuma—Mantashe

Zuma's fate has divided the ANC, with the top 6 officials sending out different messages on his future. (Oupa Nkosi/M&G)

Zuma's fate has divided the ANC, with the top 6 officials sending out different messages on his future. (Oupa Nkosi/M&G)

The ANC’s top six officials will meet President Jacob Zuma to discuss “options” to avoid him being impeached or voted out by Parliament, party chairperson Gwede Mantashe has confirmed.

“There is no decision or instruction to recall him, but there is a debate on what is in the air, the question of what is the best option, better than (the) possibility of impeachment and a vote of no confidence, or we do something different,” Mantashe told News24 after a meeting of the party’s national working committee (NWC) on Monday.

Mantashe said Zuma’s fate would be decided after the meeting.

News24 reported on Tuesday that members of the NWC had instructed the officials to “confront” Zuma to step down before the State of the Nation Address on February 8, while others said that, if the officials failed to recall him, an emergency national executive committee (NEC) meeting should be called. 

The NWC, which deals with the day-to-day running of the ANC, met for the first time on Monday, following a debate about Zuma’s recall in the NEC two weeks ago.

The NEC, which is the party’s highest decision-making body, gave the officials a mandate to discuss the “leadership transition” with Zuma. Mantashe insists there was no decision to recall Zuma, like when former president Thabo Mbeki was recalled.

Mantashe said the officials had reported back to the NWC that they had not been able to meet Zuma, as some officials (like ANC president Cyril Ramaphosa) were in Davos attending the World Economic Forum, and that, upon their return, Zuma had travelled to Addis Ababa for the African Union heads of state summit. Zuma returned on Tuesday morning and a meeting was expected to take place soon.
Mantashe declined to confirm when this would be.

Zuma’s job has been on the line, with a strong push to recall him as head of state after the December ANC conference elected Ramaphosa as president.

‘We are looking at variety of options’

Zuma’s fate has divided the ANC, with the top 6 officials sending out different messages on his future. ANC secretary general Ace Magashule and his deputy Jessie Duarte have been quoted as saying that Zuma was going nowhere until his term ends next year.

Magashule said there was no decision that Zuma should be recalled, but that officials were discussing “coordination between government and the ANC”.

At the same time, Ramaphosa told the international media in Davos that Zuma was “anxious” in the face of opposition parties calling for an impeachment or a vote of no confidence.

“We have been given the mandate to engage with President Zuma to see how we navigate through this transition. We are looking at variety of options,” Ramaphosa told CNN.

Asked by CNN anchor Christiane Amanpour whether he was hoping that Zuma would accept a deal to step down, Ramaphosa responded saying: “What we are signalling is that we are going to navigate through this transition carefully, and we will never do anything to show disrespect towards him or humiliate him… but this moment requires that we all have sober minds and sober heads, and make sure we put interest of South Africa ahead of interest of any one of us.”―News24

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