Johannesburg - President Zuma has been forced into a tight corner to tender his resignation as head of state.
Zuma’s imminent departure from the Union Buildings was hastened on Tuesday by the ANC taking an unequivocal decision to recall him from the highest office, after days of defiance. On Tuesday, all eyes will be on Zuma and whether he will give in and resign, as expected by the ANC.
Zuma was expected to address the media on Wednesday morning at 10am at the Union Buildings.
On Tuesday, some ANC MPs were readying themselves to vote with the opposition parties to oust Zuma if he continued to refuse to resign, as pressure inside and outside the governing party for him to go reached fever pitch.
So deep were concerns over Zuma’s continued stay in office - which he wanted to extend by three to six months - that a cabinet meeting scheduled for Tuesday was postponed.
Communications Minister Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane said: “We are alive to the developments taking place. Government is reassuring South Africans that service delivery will not be impacted.”
Even some of his family members have implored the president to call it a day.
Zuma’s nephew, Inkosi Simphiwe Zuma, called on his uncle to give up the fight and resign. “I now agree that he should step down, because the ANC has taken the decision, which we have to respect.
“But it will be up to him to comply. I have not spoken to him, but I know that he is an intelligent man who will not disobey his party’s decision. But the ANC must be warned that there are lots of people who will not vote (ANC) because of this decision. Many people came to the ANC because of him (Zuma),” he said, pointing out that he was speaking in his personal capacity, as the family had not yet met to discuss the matter.
Parties were on Tuesday frantically trying to reach consensus on the urgent debate on the motion of no confidence in Zuma.
The EFF warned they could still go to court to force Speaker Baleka Mbete to table their motion of no confidence in Zuma before the end of the week and also asked the governing party to allow the motion, scheduled for next Thursday, to be brought forward to either Thursday or Friday.
The tabling of the motion could be resolved at this morning’s urgent meeting of the chief whips of all the parties, convened by ANC chief whip Jackson Mthembu. The meeting of the chief whips was to be followed by the ANC’s special caucus meeting in Parliament, where sources said Mthembu would direct the ANC MPs on how to vote.
Another ANC MP said they were prepared to go the same route as when 25 of them voted with the opposition parties in November. “I think we need to vote for any motion that deals with the removal of the president, irrespective of who has tabled it. Look, the EFF will claim victory for this, but the outcome will be the same if we vote with them,” the MP added.
On Tuesday, ANC chairman Gwede Mantashe warned Zuma that if he continued to refuse to obey, the ANC would have no option but to allow a motion of no confidence in him to take place.
“A disciplined cadre of the ANC, you are given a chance to resign on your own, but if you lack discipline you will resist. Once you resist we are going to let you be thrown out through the vote of no confidence because you disrespect the organisation and you disobey it, therefore, we are going to let you be devoured by the vultures,” he said, speaking at the Umsobomvu Community Hall in Butterworth in the Eastern Cape.
The Thabo Mbeki Foundation said Zuma’s recall was long overdue.
“This is because, among others, he faces the possibility of prosecution for alleged criminal offences and is directly associated with negative developments such as the alleged corruption of various state bodies ie state-owned enterprises, the National Prosecuting Authority, state capture and serious economic mismanagement,” the foundation said in a statement.
“It has been obvious for many years that the interests of our country would be best served if indeed Mr Zuma ceased to be the president of the Republic.”
It also noted that “as a disciplined and loyal cadre of the ANC and out of respect for the constitution of the country, Mr Zuma must communicate with the Speaker of the House of Assembly to tender his resignation as the president of the Republic”.
National Director of Public of Prosecutions Shaun Abrahams also announced on Tuesday that he had given prosecutors until next Friday to recommend to him whether to reinstate corruption charges against Zuma.
Abrahams denied buckling under pressure and political influence, saying the timing of the announcement had nothing to do with what happened in the governing party.
National Prosecuting Authority spokesperson Luvuyo Mfaku said Abrahams has said in November he wanted to finalise the matter by the end of this month.