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Zuma puts on brave face at Cape Town cabinet meeting

President Jacob Zuma appeared to be in a jovial mood as he smiled and waved at journalists as he left his official Tuynhuis residence in Cape Town on Wednesday, where he met with ministers for cabinet meeting. This was despite speculation that his resignation as head of state was imminent.

Zuma continued with “business as usual” on Wednesday, meeting ministers for cabinet committee meetings at the parliamentary precinct for most of the day.

On Tuesday night, Zuma and ANC president Cyril Ramaphosa held discussions about his future as head of state, and called off a special national executive committee meeting of the party after a “fruitful” conversation.

But the content of these discussions were not revealed in the cabinet committee meeting, and no plans were made for a transition of leadership, Communications minister Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane told the Mail & Guardian.

“There is no decision that the president will resign and there were no discussions held on a possible transition.”

Cabinet was continuing with its “normal work,” Kubayi-Ngubane said, insisting that she would not resign from her positions if Zuma resigns, as other ministers did after the recall of former president Thabo Mbeki in 2008.

“If there’s a decision like that, we’ll come out clearly to say what is going to happen from government point of view. Currently, there isn’t any decision like that.

Inside the meeting, Zuma was also in a good mood, Small Business Development minister Lindiwe Zulu told the M&G.

“He’s in a good mood. He’s doing his job, and his job is that of the president of the country. That’s what he’s doing. He’s always smiling, he never stops smiling.”

Meanwhile Ramaphosa acknowledged the anxiety created by uncertainty around Zuma staying in office. The new ANC president said there had been “a lot of speculation and anxiety about the position of President Jacob Zuma as the head of state and government of our country.”

Ramaphosa said the direct discussions with Zuma would lay the basis for a speedy resolution, but did not clarify if Zuma agreed to step down.

Zulu, however, did not believe that the possible premature end of Zuma’s term had created anxiety.

“Anxiety to who? That’s an agenda that’s out there,” Zulu told the M&G.

“We have an agenda as ANC, which is the mandate we got at conference, which by the way we are moving with. The NEC mandated the officials to engage with [Zuma] and that’s what they’re doing. We are not going to allow anyone to set an agenda as the ANC. We can’t allow other people to misdirecting us,” she added.

Zulu also stressed that both Zuma and Ramaphosa should be treated with respect, and entrusted to find a solution to the impasse.

“President Cyril Ramaphosa is a president of the ANC, respectfully, having been given the mandate. President Jacob Zuma is the president of the country, respectfully, elected during the last elections,”

“Those two gentlemen, comrades, have the capacity to deal with the issues confronting the ANC. All of us are not afraid of that. It’s actually a good thing that they finding each other,” Zulu said.

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Govan Whittles

Govan Whittles is a general news and political multimedia journalist at the Mail & Guardian. Born in King William's Town in the Eastern Cape, he cut his teeth as a radio journalist at Primedia Broadcasting. He produced two documentaries and one short film for the Walter Sisulu University, and enjoys writing about grassroots issues, national politics, identity, heritage and hip-hop culture.

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