Sources say ANC decided to recall Zuma after late-night meeting
ANC top leaders were locked in 13-hour meeting
This is how long it took for the ANC's highest decision-making body, the national executive committee (NEC), to discuss, debate, discuss again and debate again how the party - and the country - would transition from the leadership of Jacob Zuma to that of his apparent successor, Cyril Ramaphosa.
By the time all was said and done, two highly placed sources told Times Select the NEC had decided to recall Zuma as head of state. But it was no easy task and no time frame had yet been given for the decision to be enforced.
At about 10.30pm, Ramaphosa - accompanied by ANC secretary-general Ace Magashule - left the St George's Hotel in Irene, Pretoria, and went to Zuma's official residence, Mahlamba Ndlopfu, apparently to report to him that the NEC had determined he should step down or, if he failed to do so, face removal from office.
It took about 90 minutes for Ramaphosa to return to the hotel and to relay Zuma's response to the NEC. Zuma's response can only be speculated on, but up to now he has been unwilling to resign, even though he told Ramaphosa last week he would do it.
This, it seems, led to the decision to recall Zuma.
Attempts to get comment from ANC communications officials were unsuccessful in the early hours of Tuesday morning, with phones turned off or not answered.
ANC Youth League secretary-general Njabulo Nzuza, contacted by phone after the meeting, would not deny reports that Zuma had been recalled.
"Let's talk about the matter at a later stage," he said before cutting the call.
Other media, many of whom had reporters camped outside the venue along with Times Select, were also reporting on the recall. Some, citing unnamed sources, said it could happen as early as Tuesday morning.
The party’s powerful 107-member NEC had met at a hotel outside Pretoria. Vehicles started leaving the St George's Hotel in Irene, Pretoria, at about 3am.
Zuma is under no constitutional obligation to obey if the ANC NEC recalls him. If he does not resign, he is then likely be ousted via a parliamentary vote of no confidence.Political analyst Prof Somadoda Fikeni said on Monday afternoon the president could still be trying to obtain a settlement agreement that would suit his needs once he vacates the Union Buildings.
"President Zuma must be playing out what he perceives to be differences between those who support him and those who support [Deputy President] Cyril Ramaphosa, knowing that the margin is not so big...
"Those leaders he [Zuma] appointed into cabinet and those who stand to face trial may resist any transition knowing that he [Zuma] would give them an extra cover for the remaining year‚" said Fikeni.
Last week‚ National Assembly Speaker Baleka Mbete announced an unprecedented decision to postpone the state of the nation address‚ which opposition parties had not wanted Zuma to deliver.Fikeni said Zuma could be pre-empting the likelihood of facing plenty of charges once he vacates the Union Buildings and therefore could be negotiating with Ramaphosa to grant him a presidential pardon.
"Zuma might know he's not going to have a quiet retirement because he is likely to be in and out of court cases, so he might have tried his luck to check immunity, even though that is not granted in our constitutional arrangement. He might also be looking at the security of his family as well as the legal fees, because he will be facing a mountain of legal challenges‚" said Fikeni.
"Our constitution-based laws would simply make it impossible because this matter has now gone out of the hands of any political arrangement. It is now a legal matter as it has gone to the Constitutional Court and it is monitored as such‚" he added.
Fikeni said Zuma's exit talks could also involve seeking benefits for his family that he might negotiate as part of the exit package.
Ramaphosa on Sunday promised to give South Africa closure soon.
“We know you want this matter to be finalised,” the new ANC leader, 65, said at a party rally in Cape Town to rapturous cheering.
“We know you want closure... Because our people want this matter to be finalised, the NEC will be doing precisely that.”South African opposition parties on Monday called for early elections as the ANC’s leadership battle continued.
“We must proceed to the dissolution of parliament... subsequent to that, we move on to an early election,” Democratic Alliance (DA) leader Mmusi Maimane told reporters, speaking alongside several opposition parties.
The parliamentary speaker announced that an opposition request for a no-confidence vote against Zuma on Tuesday was still being considered on Monday evening.
Zuma’s presidency has been marred by corruption scandals, slow economic growth and record unemployment that have fuelled public anger.
He was due to stand down next year after serving the maximum two five-year terms since coming to power in 2009.
Zuma’s hold over the ANC was shaken in December when his chosen successor — his former wife Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma — narrowly lost to Ramaphosa in a vote to be the new party leader.A key sticking point in the negotiations is reportedly the potentially ruinous legal fees Zuma faces from prolonged court battles against multiple criminal cases.
The ANC has insisted there would be no delay to the budget, which is due on February 21.
Sunday’s rally was part of ANC celebrations marking 100 years since former president Nelson Mandela’s birth — as well as efforts by Ramaphosa to revive the party’s tainted reputation ahead of next year’s general election.
Zuma, 75, has not spoken publicly since being asked to resign by senior ANC officials on February 4. In 2008, his supporters pushed out then-president Thabo Mbeki over allegations of abuse of power.
Under Zuma, the ANC won less than 54% of the vote in local elections in 2016 — its worst electoral performance since coming to power with Mandela at the helm in 1994.
Ramaphosa is a former trade unionist who led talks to end apartheid rule in the early 1990s and then became a multi-millionaire businessman before returning to politics.
Additional reporting by AFP