President Jacob Zuma. File picture: Dumisani Sibeko, Independent Media
Pretoria - All eyes were on whether President Jacob Zuma will heed his party's decision that he leaves the Union Buildings.

The ANC's national executive committee has finally ordered president Jacob Zuma to vacate office as the head of state following a marathon meeting that went into the early hours of this morning.

The meeting started at 2 pm on Monday and continued for more than 10 hours as the ANC top brass were locked in discussions on Zuma's political fate.

The ruling party's new leadership has been conducting talks on Zuma's fate since its election in December as his remaining in office is viewed as detrimental to the party's fortunes in next year's general elections due to corruption allegations against him.

Independent Media has learnt from two NEC members that the party's top brass has decided that Zuma be told to vacate the Union Buildings. Before midnight, ANC president Cyril Ramaphosa and secretary general Ace Magashule were tasked with delivering the recall verdict to Zuma at Mahlamba Ndlopfu in Pretoria.

It was however unclear how Zuma received the decision to recall him.

Last week, he rejected calls for him to step down by the party's national officials who were tasked with managing the transfer of power from him to Ramaphosa.

Zuma's refusal could plunge the ANC into a quagmire.

Opposition parties are pushing that their motion of no-confidence, which was scheduled for February 22, be tabled before any motion by the ruling party, which would force ANC MPs to vote Zuma out with and through the initiative of their opposition counterparts. The opposition motion would also force the ANC to defend Zuma again, even when he has been told by the party’s leadership to step down.

Constitutional law expert Shadrack Gutto said it would, however, be a mammoth task for opposition parties to successfully dissolve Parliament and call for early elections, as this was likely to be met by stern resistance by the governing ANC.

He said the ANC could succeed in blocking attempts for Parliament to be dissolved.

Gutto contended that the opposition parties were postulating on this route because they have realised the difficulties of removing Zuma through a vote of no confidence – having failed to do so on eight previous occasions.

“But that is their opinion and they can go ahead and confront the matter from all angles and dimensions that all political parties in a multiparty democracy have a right to,” Gutto said.

Gutto said opposition parties could try the impeachment route, in terms of section 89 of the constitution, but this would also be difficult as a two-thirds majority would be required to impeach a president.

However, a simple majority of 201 Members of Parliament would suffice to pass a motion of no confidence, where the entire cabinet would have to be disbanded and a new president appointed by 30 days, Gutto said.

Political Bureau