PARLIAMENT - In a rare show of unity among political foes in South Africa, all parties represented in Parliament have agreed - Thursday is D-Day for President Jacob Zuma.
During an urgent meeting of Parliament's programming committee on Wednesday afternoon, opposition parties accepted a proposal by the ruling African National Congress (ANC) that if Zuma does not fall on his sword before a scheduled 2pm National Assembly sitting on Thursday, a motion of no confidence will commence.
"We agree as well on the proposed progrmame that on Thursday we deal with the motion of no confidence and Friday the state-of-the-nation address of course after the election of a new president and then Monday the debate [on the state-of-the-nation address] and then Tuesday the response [by the new president] and Wednesday the budget speech by the new minister of Finance," said Floyd Shivambu, chief whip of the country's third largest political party, Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF).
The EFF is the party which tabled the motion.
Shivambu said they did not oppose the motion being brought forward so the ANC could table an amended motion of no confidence because the result would be the same - Zuma's ouster from the Union Buildings.
"Let the ANC be open with its proposed amendment of the motion so that we don't have unnecessary wrangles in Parliament on an amended motion ... because all of us agree on the essence of the discontinuation of the presidency of Jacob Zuma."
The United Democratic Movement's Nqabayomzi Kwanka agreed, saying uncertainty must end and the parliamentary programme which has been in limbo since the ANC tried, unsuccessfully, to get Zuma to step down since last week.
"We indeed also agree with the proposed programme because we want the business of Parliament to resume again on matters that affect our people instead of focusing on petty political matters," said Kwankwa.
If Zuma does resign, which he had up until Wednesday afternoon showed no intention of doing, ANC chief whip Jackson Mthembu said the motion falls away but the National Assembly will still proceed with electing a new president on Friday.
"If for some or whatever reason we do get a letter [of resignation], because Valentine's Day you should have a letter coming to you, we still have a Friday [sitting of the House]," said Mthembu.
Zuma was sent a letter of recall by the ANC, the party who deployed him to the presidency in 2009. He was given Wednesday as a deadline to respond. At the same time the parliamentary ANC caucus were given instructions to proceed with a motion of no confidence which will see Zuma exit the presidency, and according to the Constitution see cabinet dissolved.
The country's deputy president, who succeeded Zuma as party president in December last year, will be nominated and likely elected as the new President on Friday.
African News Agency/ANA