JOHANNESBURG, February 14 – There are no two centres of power in South Africa after the ruling African National Congress (ANC) elected a new party leader, President Jacob Zuma said on Wednesday.
Zuma, who this week was recalled by his party and will face a motion of no confidence in Parliament on Thursday, said the job of the new ANC president was to prepare for the elections. He said the new president should lead the party in the campaign and strengthen the party ahead of the 2019 elections.
“This time there are no two centres of power. It’s a period, very short, 18 months as I said, wherein the other one, as I said, finishing a five-year period which is determined by the constitution of this country,” he said. “It is a very clear kind of thing.”
Zuma said the 18 months cannot be seen as two centres of power and called it “very immature politics”. He said he explained this to the ANC National Executive Committee which on Monday night took the decision to recall him.
According to Zuma, who was speaking during a live television interview, this has always been the way the ruling party operated.
Speaking of his predecessor, former ANC and South African president Thabo Mbeki, Zuma said Mbeki was recalled after he was elected as new party president because of “a specific thing” he was doing. Zuma said the NEC at the time felt that recalling Mbeki was the right thing to do at the time.
“When the NEC discussed this matter, I’m one of those who were in fact saying we should not recall comrade president Mbeki because we would be creating a bad precedent.
“If at all we are not happy, I said let us talk to him and work out an arrangement how is he going to perform his duties that would not make people feel uncomfortable. Off course, I was defeated by the majority and I understood that….”
He said when Mbeki was recalled he agreed and there was no problem.
President Jacob Zuma, in a rambling television address on Wednesday, said the African National Congress (ANC) had no cause to remove him from office and claimed that the party had reneged on an agreement that he would serve another three months as a notice period before handing over to his deputy Cyril Ramaphosa.
Speaking after the ruling party signalled that he would be voted out by Parliament on Thursday, Zuma said: “I need to be furnished as to what I have done.”
Zuma repeated at several turns that “there is no problem”, and that he did not understand why the members of the ANC were bent on removing him.
The suggestion that the party could not have “two centres of power”, himself as head of state and Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa as leader of the party, was a false debate as former president Nelson Mandela had remained president for more than a year after Thabo Mbeki succeeded him as ANC leader.
Zuma said he had agreed to resign, but only after a three-month notice period to ensure a smooth transfer of power and strengthen the party before it contests national elections in 2019 and to introduce Ramaphosa to the African Union and the BRICS group of nations. He said this was vital to ensure that other heads of state were prepared to work with Ramaphosa.
“To also remove the public perception out there that Zuma is being elbowed out so that they will work with you because some of them are my colleagues and friends.”
He added that several fellow African leaders had cautioned Ramaphosa not to force him out of office.
“More than one president in Africa met him and made that kind of remarks.”
Zuma said Ramaphosa had agreed, as did ANC secretary general Ace Magashule, that he would remain in office for three more months and that Ramaphosa would take over some presidential units, including chairing Cabinet meetings, to show that they were working together.
“We all agreed, it was an agreement of three of us.”
He said he welcomed an offer by Ramaphosa to publicly announce the accord to end speculation and uncertainty.
“That was absolutely wonderful, we continued working.”
But he said there was a sudden about-turn after Ramaphosa and Magashule reported back to the party’s national executive committee (NEC).
“I disagree with the decision because my feeling is that the decision is not right. It is not based on anything.”
Asked if he was resigning, Zuma said the party was rushing ahead with a resolution and he did not understand the haste. But he conceded that he would have to bow to the majority if the motion of no confidence in Parliament went against him.
“If Parliament says we do not want you, why should there be a problem, I will be out.”
But he warned that “some of my colleagues will not be happy” about his forced departure and that they party may end of up regretting it.
– African News Agency (ANA)