South African President Jacob Zuma
PRETORIA – The ANC’s national executive committee entered a weekend of intense debate, following a week of important meetings for the organisation.
But the party's spokesman, Zizi Kodwa announced on Sunday evening that the meeting currently under way at St George's Hotel in Irene, Pretoria, has been extended to Monday.
Earlier in the week, the party's leadership met twice with party veterans, despite President Jacob Zuma’s public criticism of the stalwarts.
Tri-partite alliance member Cosatu also put its cards on the table by making clear its support for Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa as Zuma’s successor.
The president attempted to fight back, announcing on Friday he would challenge the Public Protector’s State of Capture report in court.
On Saturday, ANC secretary general Gwede Mantashe said that a special two-day consultative conference had been agreed with the veterans, to be held in June next year.
But reports emanating from the weekend NEC meetings indicate that pressure on the president has increased significantly, with calls at cabinet level for him to step down. Six NEC members have apparently put their names forward to succeed Zuma.
“The NEC is discussing a proposal to recall President Jacob Zuma – a very critical meeting whatever the outcome is. What is clear is that President Zuma’s control over the party is beginning to slip,” said political analyst Karima Brown.
“All the traditional places where President Zuma has sought succour (are) beginning to be contested by people opposing his leadership and those who have come and said that the scandals – Nkandla; state capture; and the Guptas (are) too expensive for the ANC,” she said.
City Press reported on Sunday that Tourism Minister Derek Hanekom was believed to have tabled the motion calling for Zuma to step down.
The paper said that the meeting had been adjourned, with discussions around whether to vote on the motion, and whether a secret ballot would be allowed, deferred to Sunday.
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Brown said many people are now waiting for Ramaphosa to make a move. "What he makes of the endorsements that have come from sections of the alliance that have already indicated that he’s their preferred choice", and whether he is sufficiently emboldened by these moves to speak out, could prove critical, she said.