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Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 19 June 2018

Zuma faces more pressure to quit as South African president

An African National Congress committee will decide the president’s fate in a meeting on Monday

South African president Jacob Zuma faces calls from within the African National Congress to stand down. REUTERS/Siphiwe Sibeko
South African president Jacob Zuma faces calls from within the African National Congress to stand down. REUTERS/Siphiwe Sibeko

A committee of top officials from the African National Congress, South Africa’s ruling party, is due to meet on Monday after its six most-senior leaders spent Sunday afternoon with president Jacob Zuma, who is facing mounting pressure to step down.

“The NWC will meet tomorrow,” ANC secretary-general Ace Magashule said, referring to the national working committee that is one of the highest decision-making structures. “Everything is under control. There’s no crisis.”

The ANC’s NWC conducts the day-to-day running of the party. It would need to call a meeting of the party’s National Executive Committee to force Mr Zuma to quit.

Opposition leader Julius Malema, a former ANC member, said Mr Zuma had refused to resign at the meeting late on Sunday.

“He refused to resign and he told them to take a decision to remove him if they wish to do so because he did not do anything wrong to the country,” Mr Malema wrote on Twitter.

Mr Malema was one of the first to disclose that Cyril Ramaphosa had won the race to succeed Mr Zuma as ANC leader in December.

Mr Zuma, who is battling corruption allegations, has been in a weakened position since he was replaced as leader of the ANC.

Mr Ramaphosa, the deputy president, defeated Mr Zuma’s preferred candidate, Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma.

While Mr Zuma’s second and final term is only due to end next year, his immersion in a succession of scandals has eroded support for the ANC and many with the party’s ranks want him to go before he delivers the annual state-of-the-nation address on February 8.

An “urgent notice” sent to members of the NWC, a 26-member group that oversees the day-to-day operations of the party, scheduled the meeting on Sunday.

Mr Zuma, who has not said whether he will step down voluntarily before his second term as president ends, has been deserted by several prominent allies in the ANC since Mr Ramaphosa took over leadership of what is the only party to govern South Africa since the end of apartheid.

He is due to deliver a speech at the opening of parliament in Cape Town on Thursday.

It is unclear if he would still be in office to face a fresh no-confidence motion on February 22.

Mr Zuma has survived several no-confidence votes during his rule thanks to loyal voting by ANC lawmakers, who form a strong parliamentary majority. Although he retains the support of a faction within the ANC, he no longer holds a top post.