JOHANNESBURG - President Jacob Zuma's future may well be decided on Sunday as the African National Congress's top six leaders prepare to meet him following the party's national working committee (NWC) decision that he step down.
The meeting follows the top leaders' visit to Limpopo on Saturday and Sunday where they met traditional leaders across the province. The governing party's NWC last month mandated the top six officials tell Zuma to resign, preferably before the upcoming state-of-the-nation address (Sona) on Thursday.
Zuma's prolonged stay at the Union Buildings is seen by some as detrimental to uniting the party ahead of the crucial 2019 general elections. However, cracks began to show in the top six leadership as ANC secretary general Ace Magashule, a staunch Zuma supporter, told eNCA on Saturday that Zuma will deliver the Sona.
On the other hand, treasurer general Paul Mashatile insists that Zuma should go. Last week, Zuma handed in documents containing representations aimed at dissuading the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) from reinstating decade-old corruption charges against him.
In recent weeks, calls for Zuma's removal have increased, with opposition parties asking National Assembly Speaker Baleka Mbete to schedule yet another motion of no confidence in Zuma debate.
Mbete has scheduled the debate, sought by the Economic Freedom Fighters, for February 22, soon after the Sona. The Democratic Alliance was unsuccessful in its bid to have the Sona postponed.
In her response to the DA, Mbete said the president, as head of state, had exercised powers vested in him in terms of section 84 of the Constitution and National Assembly rules to call on parliament to convene for the Sona.
Opposition parties are adamant that Zuma should not deliver the Sona, and are reportedly weighing options to interdict Thursday's event.
The embattled Zuma told supporters at his 75th birthday bash in Soweto, Johannesburg last year that he would resign should the ANC ask him to do so.
That flies in the face of media reports that Zuma is determined to stay in power and deliver the Sona, despite pleas from within the party for him to resign immediately.
ANC spokeswoman Khusela Diko would not confirm or deny the crucial meeting on Sunday. ''Please give the ANC space... if there is such a meeting, the media will be informed of such,'' she said.
African News Agency/ANA