President Jacob Zuma
JOHANNESBURG - As pressure grows for Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa to deliver Thursday&39;s State of the Nation Address (SONA), a divided ANC top six will meet with embattled President Jacob Zuma on Sunday.
Opposition parties and civil society groups have renewed calls for Zuma to step down, while yet another motion of no confidence in Zuma is scheduled to be debated in Parliament on February 22.
There have been reports that Zuma is digging in his heels, refusing to go voluntarily.
The President is not only under pressure from his party and MPs but also the law, with the National Prosecuting Authority due to announce by mid-February whether it will reinstate corruption charges against him.
On Saturday, ANC Secretary-General Ace Magashule nailed his colours to the mast, telling eNCA that Zuma will be the one to deliver SONA.
But, on Friday, the party&39;s Treasurer-General Paul Mashatile told CNBC Africa that he wants Zuma to step down voluntarily while others in the party have also indicated it would be better for Zuma to resign rather than be impeached or removed through a motion of no confidence.
"Our view, of course, is that there should be a change of guard. You need to transfer power. You can’t have two centres of power... And the best possible way is when the state president exits.
"Now, but how do we do it? You have to engage with him and say, &39;look we are not booting you out but we think we can work better that way&39; and hear him out and come back to the NWC (National Working Committee). We promised the NWC that we will come back to report.
"One of the things that we want to avoid as the ANC is getting our president of the Republic to be moved out of government through the motion of no confidence," said Mashatile.
During the ANC’s 106th birthday celebrations in Vryheid in northern KwaZulu-Natal on Saturday, ANC NEC member Bheki Cele told supporters he agreed.
“I hope the African National Congress leadership as they are meeting tomorrow (Sunday), they will be able to sort things and we don’t have to give the reason and the space for other people to decide on our behalf."
Cele lashed out at those who promised to defend Zuma by marching to the party’s headquarters, Luthuli House.
“Hands off the African National Congress. They have no business if they are not members of the ANC to march and determine what the ANC must do. Comrade JZ is a deployee of the ANC and the ANC will have to decide...
"I don’t know who they are. I don’t know what they want, they must go and deal with their organisation and with their things and allow the ANC to deal with its matters.”
The outspoken NEC member also took a swipe at Magashule, whom he accuses of stealing money from the Free State&39;s Vrede dairy farm project and giving it to the Guptas.