Members of the ANC’s national executive committee have called for his resignation which may mean he won’t be delivering the State of the Nation (Sona) address next month.
A source told Weekend Argus that there has also been talk in ANC circles for Sona and the Budget speech to be moved a few weeks back if Zuma did not budge immediately.
The Budget speech would have to be tabled in Parliament by the end of February at the latest as the end of March is the government’s end of financial year.
Zuma, who is in the last 18 months of his second term as head of state, attended the governing party’s NEC lekgotla in Centurion, Tshwane, this weekend.
ANC secretary-general Ace Magashule announced yesterday that the party’s Top Six would continue to engage with Zuma to ensure effective co-ordination between Luthuli House and the government.
Last week, Independent Media reported that the Top Six had resolved that Zuma would meet his party boss, ANC president Cyril Ramaphosa, every Tuesday.
It emerged yesterday that the two-day NEC, which was held on Thursday and Friday, tasked the party’s Top Six officials to ask Zuma to resign.
A source said discussions were still being held to discuss Zuma’s exit before February, when he is due to deliver his second-last State of the Nation address in Parliament.
The source said no final decision on the matter was taken, but Ramaphosa held a meeting with the party’s alliance partners - Cosatu, the SACP and Sanco - to brief them about developments in the ANC.
“The briefing was just to bring the alliance on board on the developments, including the Eskom matters, whose intricacies threaten the sovereignty of the country,” the source said.
One of Zuma’s fiercest defenders, uMkhonto weSizwe Military Veterans’ Association president Kebby Maphatsoe, yesterday denied that the NEC lekgotla discussed the president’s resignation or recall.
Maphatsoe, who attended the lekgotla in his capacity as the deputy military veterans minister, said the gathering was discussing policies and would break into commissions for further deliberations.
Ramaphosa is scheduled to close the lekgotla, which maps out the ANC-led government’s programme for the year, today.
SACP first deputy general secretary Solly Mapaila said the organisation was happy that the new NEC had the guts, rightfully so, to discuss the matter of Zuma’s removal without falling into the trap that doing this would divide the ANC.
“The SACP is of the view that President Zuma should be removed as soon as possible,” said Mapaila. He said each day that Zuma remained in office made it harder for the ANC to regain the trust of South Africans and reconnect with voters.
Cosatu threatened to put pressure on the NEC to axe Zuma and intensify its campaign should he not be recalled or resign.
Cosatu deputy general secretary Solly Phetoe said: “We are not putting pressure on Zuma but on the NEC. Zuma must step down. We have never withdrawn that demand We cannot have two centres of power,” said Phetoe.
He said should Zuma still be in office when Cosatu holds its central executive committee meeting next month, the federation would intensify its calls for his removal.
Political analyst Somadoda Fikeni said Zuma was under extreme pressure to consider stepping down but warned that the matter could drag on, depending on the president’s response to the calls.
“If he is assured he is not going to be humiliated he may consider leaving,” he explained.
According to Fikeni, Zuma faces many legal challenges that impact on his key allies, including possible impeachment which could lead to him losing all of his post-presidency benefits such as his salary for life.