Update: President Jacob Zuma resigned with immediate effect on Wednesday evening, one hour before his deadline was up. There is, however, still the matter of making official the appointment of Cyril Ramaphosa as the president of the republic.
Although the ANC has recalled President Jacob Zuma, it was still insisting on Tuesday that he had done nothing wrong.
Speaker after speaker at Monday night’s special national executive committee (NEC) meeting said Zuma should go for a range of reasons, central to which was the ANC’s electoral performance and the effect that his remaining head of state could have on the party.
On Tuesday, the net continued to tighten around Zuma.
The ANC said it was waiting for his response on Wednesday. Should he refuse to resign, the ANC said it would be forced to remove him in Parliament.
Zuma is expected to address the nation on Wednesday. The Presidency could, however, not be reached to confirm this.
As the ANC notified him formally of its decision to recall him, National Director of Public Prosecutions Shaun Abrahams gave the prosecution team dealing with Zuma’s corruption, fraud and racketeering charges until February 23 to provide their recommendations. This was after Zuma made fresh representations in January on why he should not be prosecuted. If Zuma declines the ANC offer to let him resign it will pave the way for his removal through a motion of no confidence.
In the past eight motions of no confidence against him, the ANC stuck to the party line that he should not be removed. It was only in the last motion that some of the party’s MPs voted differently in a secret ballot vote.
The party line this time will be that Zuma must go.
Business Day understands that the NEC has given the ANC caucus in the National Assembly the task of devising a strategy for his removal should he refuse to heed the recall.
The ANC chief whip has been instructed to brief the caucus, which is expected to meet on Wednesday morning while the ANC awaits a “response” from Zuma on the unanimous NEC decision to recall him. A cabinet meeting scheduled for Wednesday has been postponed.
While ANC secretary- general Ace Magashule told journalists that there was no decision on a motion of no confidence in Parliament, it is understood that the NEC agreed that should Zuma fail to resign Parliamentary processes would kick in.
Immediately after the ANC’s briefing, the rand weakened from R11.92 to the dollar to R11.98. Analysts said there was concern in the market that Zuma had not been given a deadline by which to resign. At 6.30pm on Tuesday, the rand firmed marginally against the dollar, to R11.96. Before Magashule’s announcement it had reached a best intraday level of R11.87.
According to sources who took part in the NEC meeting, which started at 2pm on Monday afternoon and dragged on into the early hours of Tuesday, the possibility of court action against the recall was also raised. This emerged amid reports that Transform SA — a Zuma-aligned lobby group — had launched a legal bid to challenge the outcome of the NEC meeting.
According to senior ANC leaders, Zuma was “very angry” and may not resign voluntarily.
Magashule confirmed that the NEC had rejected Zuma’s request for a further three months in office to “introduce” incoming president Cyril Ramaphosa to international bodies such as Brics and the Southern African Development Community. It is understood that even those who were seen to be staunch supporters of Zuma’s have indicated that it is time for him to go.
Zuma’s preferred candidate for the presidency, Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, while diplomatic about the matter, indicated at the NEC meeting that Zuma could not see his term out or deliver the state of the nation address.
When asked for the NEC’s reasons for recalling Zuma and whether it related to allegations of state capture, Magashule was emphatic, saying the president had not been found guilty of any wrongdoing.
Magashule said the reason for the recalled was that the party wanted Ramaphosa in the position of president and for him to deliver the state of the nation address. Magashule said that when a deployee of the ANC was recalled the party expected that person to comply.
For now, the ANC was giving Zuma “time and space”.
Magashule said Zuma was a “disciplined member” and he believed that the president would make the right decision, but again pleaded for time.
“The national executive committee firmly believes that this situation requires us to act with urgency in order to steer our country towards greater levels of unity, renewal and hope.
“We are determined to restore the integrity of the public institutions, create political stability and urgent economic recovery,” Magashule said.
By Natasha Marrian and Genevieve Quintal for Business Live