President Jacob Zuma. File picture: Nic Bothma/EPA

Johannesburg - The National Freedom Party (NFP) on Tuesday warned beleaguered President Jacob Zuma to stand down quietly as head of state or face a physical removal similar to Zimbabwe's Robert Mugabe, adding that it had instructed its MPs to ensure that Zuma did not open Parliament later this week.

Zuma - fighting for political survival amid corruption allegations which he denies - narrowly survived a no-confidence vote in August, when some African National Congress (ANC) parliamentarians voted with the opposition. The 75-year-old has refused to step aside. Late last year, the former Zimbabwe president was overthrown in a relatively peaceful coup led by the country's army.

''NFP believes that President Jacob Zuma must respect the ANC cadre deployment and redeployment system and make a noiseless exit or else face physical removal. We advise him to avoid what we have seen in Zimbabwe before former President Mugabe's resignation,'' spokesman Sabelo Sigudu said in a statement. 

''Mr Jacob Zuma’s term ended after the ANC December conference last year, [former president] Mr Thabo Mbeki has never caused so much drama when he lost in 2009, he resigned without pressure. Why is Mr Jacob Zuma so scared to vacate the office?'' 

The African National Congress (ANC) meeting of its national working committee (NWC) ended late Monday after hours of deliberating the fate of Zuma. Although the ANC is yet to comment on the outcome of the meeting, insiders said the ruling party's NWC had decided to take the matter back to the national executive committee (NEC), the party's highest decision-making body between conferences. The meeting has been set for Wednesday in Cape Town, a day before the State of the Nation Address (Sona). 

Last Sunday, the ANC top brass failed to persuade Zuma to resign, which led to the Monday NWC meeting. Zuma met the Zulu King Goodwill Zwelithini in KwaZulu-Natal on Monday, in what his office said was a long-scheduled meeting. - African News Agency 

African News Agency/ANA