On Monday afternoon, the ANC’s highest decision-making body, the National Executive Committee (NEC), met to discuss the future of Zuma as president of the Republic.
The meeting at St George Hotel in Irene, Pretoria got under way just after 2pm and was meant to be a quick affair. However, it went on until the early hours of this morning.
It appears that after deliberations, a decision was finally made by the NEC to recall Zuma.
About a decade ago, the party also decided to recall a sitting president, Thabo Mbeki, who went quickly and quietly. Zuma, however, has seemingly decided to stay put.
ANC president Cyril Ramaphosa and secretary-general Ace Magashule were sent around midnight to Zuma’s official residence, Mahlamba Ndlopfu, to break the news to him. He was given 48 hours to step down.
They returned about two hours later, apparently to report that Zuma would not go of his own volition. His refusal apparently infuriated some NEC members.
“The biggest mistake we ever did in the ANC was to make Zuma a president... he refused to resign... now he is going to be recalled,” an NEC member said.
The president of the republic is appointed by Parliament and the ANC’s only option now to get rid of Zuma would be through a motion of no-confidence in that same institution.
However, as political analysts have pointed out, it would not be ideal for the ANC to have to resort to removing their own leader in Parliament. But it is the only remaining option unless Zuma has a change of heart and resigns.
Meanwhile, the pressure from opposition parties on the ANC to act is mounting. They held a meeting in Cape Town on Monday to call for a special sitting of Parliament (the National Assembly and National Council of Provinces) to debate the motion of the vote of no-confidence in Zuma.
Such a motion is already on the cards for next week, but the opposition parties want it brought forward to this week.
They have asked that the Speaker of the National Assembly, Baleka Mbete, and the Chairperson of the National Council of Provinces, Thandi Modise, agree to their request.
If they succeed in the motion against Zuma, the opposition parties want the cabinet to be disbanded and for early elections to be called.
Congress of the People leader Mosiuoa Lekota requested that Zuma be “urgently brought before Parliament and removed in accordance with the provisions of our Constitution”.
According to a statement by the parties: “It was agreed by all in attendance that the opposition cannot be drawn into the factional battles within the ANC.
“It was also noted that, as per the same Constitutional Court judgment which found that President Zuma had violated the Constitution, Parliament had also failed in its duty to the people of South Africa.
“It is therefore not sufficient to simply vote the president out and replace him with another tainted candidate. Parliament itself must be reconstituted.”