CAPE TOWN, February 7 – South Africans are likely to know in the coming days who would be leading the country, a statement from Cyril Ramaphosa, leader of the ruling African National Congress (ANC), said on Wednesday.
In the statement, Ramaphosa acknowledges the “anxiety” and concern caused by the political events of the past few days, which saw the state-of-the-nation address postponed – adding fuel to speculation that SA President Jacob Zuma would either resign or be ousted soon.
In the frank statement, Ramaphosa said he started discussions with Zuma on Tuesday “on the transition” and these talks would be continuing.
“The discussions were constructive and lay the basis for a speedy resolution of the matter in the interests of the country and its people,” Ramaphosa, also the country deputy president, said.
“On the basis of the progress made, it was agreed to postpone a special meeting of the ANC National Executive Committee that had been scheduled for later today. This will enable President Zuma and myself to conclude our discussions and report back to our organisation and the country in the coming days.”
Once “all pertinent matters” were finalised, Ramaphosa said an announcement would be made.
“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.”
There has been speculation that Zuma was negotiating favourable conditions for his exit. The President is at the centre of state capture allegations and has over 700 charges of corruption related to the country’s controversial arms deal hanging over his head.
Ramaphosa succeeded Zuma as ANC president in December, but Zuma’s term as head of State was only expected to end next year.
However, Ramaphosa and the ANC have been under pressure, both from within the party and civil society, to either axe Zuma or ask him to resign.
Ramaphosa also confirmed that he and embattled South African head of State Jacob Zuma had begun “direct discussions on the transition and matters relating to his position as the President of the Republic”.
There have been rising calls for Zuma to step down and to not deliver the state-of-the-nation (SONA) address, both from within his own party and the opposition, who have in recent years disrupted the state of the nation address in protest at Zuma’s presence.
SONA, which was due to take place on Thursday evening, was postponed by Parliament’s presiding officers on Wednesday.
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