Zuma’s tone has changed: Ramaphosa
ANC president postponed the NEC meeting because he received a different signal from SA president
ANC president Cyril Ramaphosa had to explain to MPs on Thursday why he suddenly postponed a special NEC meeting that was expected to seal the fate of President Jacob Zuma this week.
“The deputy president said that he had to postpone the NEC because he received a change in tone from Zuma between Sunday and Tuesday when they met,” said an MP who was at the party’s closed parliamentary caucus on Thursday.
Zuma had told the ANC’s top six officials that he was not ready to resign when they asked to do so at a meeting on Sunday when they went to see him at his official residence Mahlamba Ndlopfu in Pretoria.Ramaphosa was briefing the party’ s parliamentary caucus on the ongoing “transition talks” between him and Zuma as well as other leaders of the ANC.The MPs, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they are not allowed to speak to the media on caucus discussions, said Ramaphosa told them he was not discussing granting Zuma immunity from prosecution because he simply had no authority to do so.
Sources said Ramaphosa told MPs that any discussion of immunity for Zuma was off the table.“Cyril said to us that he was not into any deal making because any deal brokering would amount to political interference in the affairs of the state or the running of government departments. He said he had no legal jurisdiction to do so.
“He said to us that discussions on the transition were about ensuring the unity of the ANC and there was no deal making,” said one MP.
Reacting to media reports, the DA said it would “not hesitate to approach the courts to stop Ramaphosa” from granting Zuma immunity from prosecution.The National Prosecuting Authority is in the coming weeks expected to decide whether to reinstate about 783 charges of corruption, racketeering and money laundering against Zuma after he filed fresh representations against the charges last week.
Another ANC caucus insider sought to downplay the matter, saying Ramaphosa had merely “appealed to people stop speculating” and allow the transition talks to continue.
But, in a statement, ANC chief whip Jackson Mthembu said Ramaphosa did not touch on the immunity issue in his presentation to caucus.“These reports are false and the intention behind them is to negatively disturb the fruitful and constructive engagement between the president of the ANC and the president of the country around the question of transition. The ANC in parliament respects the ongoing engagement and eagerly awaits its imminent conclusion,” he said.
The MPs also said Ramaphosa – in his 90-minute address to his first meeting with the party’s caucus since his election in December – told them it was “just a matter of days” before his transition talks with Zuma were concluded.
Another MP said Ramaphosa assured them that Zuma would soon exit the highest office in the land but did not give a specific date.“Yes, I can confirm that Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa told us that it is a matter of days before President Jacob Zuma goes. There was nothing specific about when will this take place. That is the only part I heard because I left early.”
Meanwhile, the Department of International Relations and Cooperation confirmed that Saturday’s Ubuntu Awards had been postponed.
Zuma would have attended the awards. His office released a statement announcing he would attend‚ even after National Assembly Speaker Baleka Mbete agreed to postpone the state of the nation address (Sona) following a request from opposition parties and Zuma himself.
Department spokesperson Clayson Monyela said the awards were a post-Sona event and had to be postponed after the president’s annual address at the opening of parliament was pushed back.
“Because it is a post-Sona event‚ we can only confirm when the awards will take place once a date for Sona has been set. That is why the awards were postponed‚” said Monyela.