South Africa's Zuma appears on brink of resignation

Decision by the ANC to postpone its meeting after “constructive” talks between Zuma and Deputy President suggests details are being ironed out

This file photo taken on December 16, 2017 shows South Africa's president Jacob Zuma speaking during the 54th ANC (African National Congress) national conference in Johannesburg.
Pressure is mounting on South Africa's scandal-tarred president, Jacob Zuma, to leave office ahead of elections next year. / AFP PHOTO / MUJAHID SAFODIEN

South African President Jacob Zuma appeared a step closer to resigning after the ruling African National Congress delayed an emergency meeting to discuss whether to force him from office.

The decision by the ANC's National Executive Committee, its top decision-making body, to postpone its meeting until later this month came after "constructive" talks between Mr Zuma and Ddeputy President Cyril Ramaphosa, party spokesman Pule Mabe said late on Tuesday. Mr Ramaphosa replaced the president as leader of the ruling ANC in December.

“My supposition is that the postponement of the NEC means the core issue around Zuma’s exit has been resolved and now they are ironing out the details,” Richard Calland, an analyst at risk advisory company the Pater Noster Group, said in Cape Town.

Earlier, parliament decided to ask Mr Zuma to delay his state-of-the-nation address scheduled for Thursday due to fears of violence, National Assembly Speaker Baleka Mbete said outside parliament in Cape Town.

Mr Ramaphosa has been cheered by many investors for his pledges to bolster growth, clamp down on graft and provide greater policy certainty. While the rand has been the best performer in the world against the dollar since his December 18 election as ANC leader, it was 0.3 per cent weaker at 11.9554 per dollar at 7.54am in Johannesburg on Wednesday.

The ANC’s former head of intelligence, Mr Zuma took power in May 2009 and clung to office through a series of scandals with the aid of his allies who controlled most key positions in the party and government.


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Since Mr Ramaphosa beat Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, Mr Zuma’s favoured successor and ex-wife, in the December vote for the party leadership, the president’s fortunes have waned. The legislature is due to debate a motion of no-confidence proposed by the opposition Economic Freedom Fighters party on February 22.

“Zuma is gone,” said Xolani Dube, a political analyst at the Xubera Institute for Research and Development in the port city of Durban. “I expect his resignation to be announced tomorrow.”

While Mr Zuma has survived repeated attempts by the opposition in parliament to remove him from office and two previous votes in the NEC, this month would have been the first when he isn’t head of the ANC.

“Ramaphosa has sidelined President Jacob Zuma quicker than expected, prompting most of Zuma’s allies to withdraw their support,” Darias Jonker, an Africa analyst at risk-advisory firm Eurasia Group, said by email.

“Zuma will likely leave office this month one way or the other.”