ZEXIT LOOMS: Now it's about the nitty-gritty of the deal
Zuma's office has not yet released his public engagements diary for next week as Ramaphosa confirms an exit deal is in the making
The ANC's 249-member parliamentary caucus will on Thursday morning have its own discussion on the future of President Jacob Zuma, following the news that he had agreed to vacate his office.
Now the details of a Zexit deal need to be brokered. If a much-anticipated statement by Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa was anything to go, it will be a matter of days before the country has a new president.
The ANC parliamentary caucus is due meet at 10am on Thursday, when the party’s MPs and ministers will be briefed on the outcomes of a series of meeting that have been taken place surrounding the future of Zuma.
On Tuesday evening, highly placed sources told Times Select Zuma had agreed to quit – but his resignation would be tied to a list of preconditions. The agreement in principle came after the unprecedented cancellation of the opening of parliament where he would have delivered his state-of-the-nation address.ANC chief whip Jackson Mthembu said on Wednesday that the special caucus meeting would go ahead as planned despite the earlier postponement of the national executive committee meeting that was scheduled to discuss Zuma’s future on Wednesday.
The meeting is a rare gathering as the ANC parliamentary caucus usually does not hold it until the delivery of the state of the nation address by the president, which also marks the official opening of the legislature.
ANC MPs are expected to be briefed on the rationale behind postponing SONA, the latest in the talks between Zuma and the leadership of the ANC and how all of these will affect the programme of parliament in the next two weeks.
Ramaphosa and Mthembu are expected to lead the caucus discussions. It's not clear if Zuma will attend the caucus meeting.
Presidential spokesperson Bongani Ngqulunga did not answer questions on Zuma’s attendance.
Mthembu was later seen entering Zuma’s office at Tynhuys.
Zuma and Ramaphosa have been present at cabinet committee meetings that have been taking place at the president’s Cape Town office of Tynhuys this week.Also on Wednesday, chief prosecutor Shaun Abrahams, who is due to announce soon whether corruption charges against Zuma should be reinstated, was spotted in the parliamentary precinct where he reportedly had a meeting with Scopa chair Themba Godi and Justice Minister Michael Masutha on cases relating to the anti-corruption task team.
“I’m not prepared to discuss that,” he told journalists when asked to provide details.Ramaphosa broke his silence on Wednesday afternoon, issuing a public statement in which he indicated a decision on Zuma’s fate was imminent and would be announced in the next few days “once we have finalised all pertinent matters”.
Ramaphosa hinted at a deal struck between him and Zuma at a meeting on Tuesday that resulted in the cancelation of the NEC meeting called to remove him from office.
Ramaphosa said: “Last night [Tuesday], President Jacob Zuma and I began direct discussions on the transition and matters relating to his position as the President of the Republic.
“The discussions were constructive and lay the basis for a speedy resolution of the matter in the interests of the country and its people.”
He said that, in a few days, he would conclude his discussions with Zuma and report back to the ANC and to the country on the outcome of the discussions.
“I am aware that the uncertainty surrounding the position of the Head of State and Government is a cause for concern among many South Africans. This is understandable ...“However, I am certain that the process we have now embarked on will achieve an outcome that not only addresses these concerns, but also unites our people around the tasks that all of us must necessarily undertake to build our country. We will be able to communicate further on President Zuma’s position as president of the republic once we have finalised all pertinent matters.”
Ramaphosa added, that while SONA was postponed indefinitely, the work of government and parliament would continue.
At a closed meeting of chiefs-whip of the parties represented in the national assembly, Mthembu deflected questions from his opposition counterparts who wanted clarity on the next date of the SONA which was due to take place today but was postponed until further notice on Tuesday.
The chiefs-whip forum did agree that, whatever happened in the coming weeks, the scheduled delivery of the national budget by Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba on February 21 would go ahead as planned.
Zuma has scheduled public engagements until this weekend, with uncertainty over his fate next week as his office has not released his public engagements diary.
The ANC’s NEC will meet next weekend, with insiders saying that meeting would hopefully devise a plan for government after Zuma’s nine-year reign as head of state.