BOILING POINT: Zuma and Sona crisis hit Code Red
ANC's NEC calls emergency meeting as president says he won't go
The fate of President Jacob Zuma and the 2018 State of the Nation Address hang in the balance with the ANC calling an urgent national executive committee on Wednesday with both issues in its sights.
The ANC national working committee decided on Monday to hold an NEC meeting on the eve of the Sona after Zuma rejected a request from the ANC’s top officials to resign.
A statement released after the meeting said the NEC would discuss preparations for the Sona and a report back from the NWC “including management of the transition between the 5th and 6th administration of government and pending actions in parliament”.
It is not yet known whether the NWC would recommend that the NEC recall Zuma, or whether to proceed with the Sona on Thursday.The ANC’s top six officials met Zuma at the presidential residence in Pretoria on Sunday night to convey to him that the party wanted him to leave office to avoid impeachment or a motion of no confidence.
Zuma is understood to have rebuffed their request, saying that he was prepared to face whatever ANC or parliamentary processes lie ahead. In 2005, following the Schabir Shaik judgment, Zuma also refused to resign, telling then President Thabo Mbeki to fire him.
The ANC has been divided on how to manage Zuma’s departure from office, particularly after he has refused to resign.
Some senior members, including secretary general Ace Magashule and his deputy Jessie Duarte, opposed Zuma leaving office early. On Monday, Magashule was booed by ANC members outside the party headquarters, Albert Luthuli House, for receiving a memorandum from the Black First Land First group demanding that Zuma remain in office.Zuma could refuse to resign even if the NEC decides on Wednesday to recall him.
In that eventuality, the ANC could table its own motion of no confidence against Zuma or support the EFF motion that is scheduled for February 22.
This still leaves the ANC in a quandary about how to deal with the Sona on Thursday.
On Monday, Speaker Baleka Mbete wrote to DA chief whip John Steenhuisen informing him that his request for an urgent meeting of parliament’s joint programme committee was “receiving consideration”.
Steenhuisen had asked that the committee decide whether Thursday’s Sona should proceed.UDM leader Bantu Holomisa had also written to Mbete and the chairperson of the National Council of Provinces Thandi Modise threatening that the opposition parties would seek to interdict the Sona if the presiding officers did not grant a postponement by the end of business on Monday.
Holomisa has not received a response.
While Mbete and Modise said last week that the Sona would go ahead as planned, the emergency meeting of the ANC NEC on Wednesday throws the event into further uncertainty.
Zuma on Monday met with Zulu king Goodwill Zwelithini in Ulundi for what the presidency called “a longstanding courtesy meeting”.
It was expected that Zuma would have conveyed his rejection of the ANC’s request to step down to the king