Let's hail the Republic as Zuma agrees to exit
How the president bowed to pressure to yield the throne
President Jacob Zuma has finally bowed to pressure and given an undertaking to ANC leader Cyril Ramaphosa that he will resign.
As a result of the meeting between the two leaders in Cape Town on Tuesday, Ramaphosa cancelled an urgent ANC national executive committee meeting that was to be held on Wednesday night to discuss Zuma’s fate.
The ANC on Tuesday night confirmed that Ramaphosa and Zuma held “fruitful and constructive engagements”.
Until then, Zuma had rebuffed all requests for him to resign, daring the ANC to recall him or for parliament to vote him out in a motion of no confidence.
It is understood that at the meeting at Genadendal, the presidential residence in Cape Town, Ramaphosa dug in his heels, giving Zuma little option but to leave office.
It is not yet known when Zuma will tender his resignation as the terms of his exit are being finalised.
The ANC, parliament and government are under pressure to schedule the 2018 State of the Nation Address and table the Budget without delay.In a day of high drama on Tuesday, parliament’s presiding officers postponed the SONA due to the uncertainty over Zuma’s position.
It was expected that the ANC NEC meeting on Wednesday would have taken a decision to recall Zuma. If Zuma still refused to resign, the ANC would have tabled a motion of no confidence against him.
Ramaphosa made a last-ditch attempt to convince Zuma to go voluntarily before he faced an unceremonious ejection from office.
In the midst of high drama and political commotion, the Republic has, for once, triumphed.The postponement of the SONA and pending resignation of the president means the nation has been spared the farce of Zuma standing on the steps of parliament to take the national salute.
During the Zuma years, the SONA has been reduced to tumult in the National Assembly with the president being shouted down and members of parliament being muscled out of the House.
But the Opening of Parliament is highly symbolic. It is a celebration of the Republic, with the national forces on display, a military flypast and a 21-gun salute.
The president represents the people of South Africa when he stands with his hand on his heart as the national anthem plays.The charade is now finally coming to an end.
“We wish to assure fellow South Africans and everyone affected by this decision that these actions are being taken in the best interests of Parliament and the country,” Mbete said when she announcement the postponement of SONA.
They said they took the decision to avoid “disruption, anarchy and chaos” that have defined the SONA over the past few years.
The ANC said it also motivated for the postponement “in light of the growing anxieties in the public domain”.
The presidency was more opaque in communicating the postponement: “The President has requested the postponement due to certain developments which make it not conducive to successfully hold the sitting and deliver the SONA.”