ANC Calls for ‘Urgent’ Meeting of Officials After Zuma Talks

Updated on
  • Ruling party’s most senior leaders met Zuma late Sunday
  • Zuma is under pressure to step down ahead of key speech

Jacob Zuma

Photographer: Waldo Swiegers/Bloomberg

A committee of top officials from South Africa’s ruling party is due to meet a day after President Jacob Zuma reportedly told its most senior leaders that he wouldn’t step down.

Zuma’s refusal to resign is forcing the African National Congress to decide if it wants to recall him as national president, Business Day reported, without saying where it got the information. The National Working Committee can convene the larger National Executive Committee, which can order Zuma to step down.

“Everything is under control. There’s no crisis,” ANC Secretary-General Ace Magashule said by phone. An “urgent notice” sent to members of the NWC, a 26-member group that oversees the day-to-day operations of the party, scheduled the meeting for 2 p.m. on Monday in Johannesburg.

Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa, 65, was elected as ANC leader in December, defeating Zuma’s preferred candidate and ex-wife, Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma. While Zuma’s second and final term is only due to end next year, his immersion in a succession of scandals has eroded support for the ANC and many within the party’s ranks want him to go before he delivers the annual state-of-the-nation address on Feb. 8.

“There is huge pressure on the ANC to rein in President Jacob Zuma once and for all to show that they are very serious about due process being followed and the fight against corruption,” Sethulego Matebesi, a political analyst at the University of the Free State in the central city of Bloemfontein, said by phone. “It will be a numbers game. There is a huge possibility that President Zuma may not deliver the state-of-the-nation address.”

The rand was 0.5 percent stronger against the dollar at 12.0290 by 10:51 a.m. in Johannesburg on Monday. The currency is the best performer in the world since Ramaphosa was elected, with investors expecting that Zuma would be replaced early.

While Zuma, 75, has survived numerous efforts to remove him from office, he faces the first no-confidence motion in parliament on Feb. 22 without being head of his party. Pro- and anti-Zuma groups plan to stage rival marches on the ANC’s Johannesburg headquarters on Monday.

— With assistance by Michael Cohen

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