Johannesburg - Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa’s backers in the ANC were set to knock the final nail in President Jacob Zuma's political coffin on Monday, while some in the embattled president’s family have urged him to fight on and not resign.
On Sunday, talks between Ramaphosa and Zuma on the latter’s departure from the Union Buildings were understood to have collapsed, due to the president’s demands.
So angry are Ramaphosa’s supporters that they pushed him to bring forward a meeting of the party’s national executive committee (NEC), scheduled to start on Saturday, to Monday.
Ramaphosa, in the clearest indication that he and his group were going for the jugular, assured the party faithful gathered at the Grand Parade in Cape Town that Zuma’s future would be “finalised” on Monday at St George’s Hotel in Irene, Centurion.
The #ANCNEC will be meeting to discuss and finalize this matter. We know you want this matter to be finalised. We know you want closure on this matter. We must keep our eyes on what is in the interests of all our people
This signalled that the party was likely to recall Zuma from office, and if he again refused to leave - which he is constitutionally entitled to do - he would face a motion of no confidence in Parliament to be tabled by the governing party itself.
A senior member of the Zuma family, Inkosi Simphiwe Zuma, told The Star on Sunday that instead of resigning, the president should force the NEC to recall him, which would risk dividing the ANC.
Simphiwe is Zuma's nephew and inkosi of the AmaNxamalala clan in Impendle, outside Pietermaritzburg, KwaZulu-Natal. Nxamalala is Zuma’s clan name.
“If they force him to leave, they will risk repeating what happened after Thabo Mbeki was recalled. The ANC would be divided, since the president has many supporters,” said Simphiwe.
Simphiwe, a senior member of Isigungu SamaNxamalala (board of the Zuma clan), insisted that Zuma was a "diligent and innocent president, who carried out ANC mandates without corruption".
“There is no truth that ubaba (my father) is corrupt. I trust him. I can only believe (it) if ubaba is accused of having a relationship with another woman because I know that as a man, he loves women But if they say he is corrupt, there is nothing of the sort,” he added.
Zuma’s family entered the fray over his future when one of his wives, Thobeka Madiba-Zuma, used her Instagram account to warn his detractors that “things are about to get ugly", and "don’t fight someone who is not fighting with you".
Read: First Lady defends Zuma
However, Zuma’s controversial son Edward Zuma has lashed out at his stepmother’s comment, describing it as “unfortunate and regrettable”.
Zuma’s refusal to step down voluntarily has hardened the attitude of the ANC’s top leadership.
One NEC member, who is also an MP, said most members in the NEC were prepared to back Zuma’s removal.
"This meeting is long overdue and everyone knows what we have to do, especially now that we know that the man has no genuine interest to go. The (ANC's parliamentary) caucus is also prepared to facilitate Zuma’s departure, even though no leader of the ANC wants it to go there, as the opposition will take credit for removing him."
Another NEC member said Zuma's demands should be within the laws of the country.
“Even if Zuma wants assurances as part of his exit package, they must be legal,” another member emphasised.
Ramaphosa told the audience at the Grand Parade that the ANC NEC would finalise the matter in the interests of the country, and not an individual.
“It is the interests of you, our people, that must be put first and not the interests of anyone else,” he added.
On Saturday, ANC officials met to get a progress report from Ramaphosa on his negotiations with Zuma. It has emerged that some of Zuma’s demands include that the state cover the legal costs of the court cases he faces that are linked to his stay in office, security for his family, and more time in office, among others.
Party insiders said this has caused a stalemate, which saw Ramaphosa calling for an NEC meeting on Monay, bringing forward the one scheduled for the weekend.
Ramaphosa postponed a special NEC meeting on Wednesday after Zuma changed his tune following his initial refusal to step down in a meeting with the ANC's Top Six officials.
“We know you want closure on this matter, and we will be doing so, while keeping our eyes on what is in the interests of all our people and how we continue to unite the nation,” Ramaphosa said.