ANC chief Cyril Ramaphosa, the president-in-waiting, has been locked in confidential talks with Zuma that have pitched the country into political uncertainty.
“We know you want this matter to be finalised,” Ramaphosa said at a party rally in Cape Town on Sunday to rapturous cheering, vowing to tackle corruption that has tarnished Zuma’s government.
Zuma has clung to power after rejecting a request by his party’s senior officials to resign more than a week ago.
South African opposition parties on Monday called for early elections as the ANC grappled with its high-stakes leadership battle.
“We must proceed to the dissolution of parliament… subsequent to that, we move on to an early election,” Democratic Alliance (DA) party leader Mmusi Maimane told reporters, speaking alongside several opposition parties.
The ANC’s powerful 107-member national executive committee (NEC) met at a hotel outside Pretoria on Monday afternoon.
The committee could recall the president from office, though he would be under no constitutional obligation to obey the order.
If Zuma refuses, he could be ousted via a parliamentary vote of no-confidence within days.
“We know you want closure,” Ramaphosa said on Sunday. “Because our people want this matter to be finalised, the NEC will be doing precisely that.”
– Down to a vote? –
Political analyst Somadoda Fikeni said the committee was split.
Some members facing corrupt allegations while serving under Zuma are “not fighting for a principle or the ANC, it will be the basic instinct of self-preservation,” he told eNCA television.
“They will strive for consensus, but if that fails, it will go to a vote,” he warned. “The pressure is so much, it has to be the final decision for the ANC leadership. If they fail to do so, they will have surrendered the initiative.”
Zuma’s presidency has been marred by corruption scandals, slow economic growth and record unemployment that have fuelled public anger.
The stalemate over Zuma’s departure has left Africa’s most developed economy in limbo, with a series of public events cancelled last week including Thursday’s State of the Nation address to parliament.
Zuma’s hold over the ANC was shaken in December when his chosen successor — his former wife Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma — narrowly lost to Ramaphosa in a vote to be the new party leader.
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Author: Eric Eric