According to a report on News24 on Tuesday morning, President Jacob Zuma told the ANC’s national executive committee (NEC) that he could never step down, as that would be like “handing himself over to the enemy”, which wants him behind bars.
Zuma’s comments came after a three-day battle over his future that was initiated by Tourism Minister Derek Hanekom’s motion to pass a vote of no confidence in the president’s leadership. The motion was ultimately not adopted.
An NEC member reportedly told News24 that “there are people who want [Zuma] in jail and they will never stop”.
Numerous opposition parties, most notably the EFF and the DA, have repeatedly called for 783 corruption charges to be reinstated against Zuma. The EFF recently referred to the “criminal” president as a “fugitive” from justice. The National Prosecuting Authority under Shaun Abrahams has done everything in its power to prevent the reinstatement of the nearly decade-old charges, which have never been tested in court.
Aside from the three Cabinet ministers (Hanekom, Thulas Nxesi and Aaron Motsoaledi) who openly called for Zuma’s head, it has also been reported that Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan supported the motion along with Science and Technology Minister Naledi Pandor (although that is disputed).
The fightback among ANC top dogs included Sports Minister Fikile Mbalula, Home Affairs Minister Malusi Gigaba, Deputy Defence Minister Kebby Maphatsoe, AU Commission chairperson Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma and Free State Premier Ace Magashule, who called for all officials who did not feel confident with Zuma’s leadership to resign.
Business Day has reported that a group of ministers have indeed said they will resign if Zuma continues to lead.
The newspaper has reported that “ministers who spoke out face a stark choice should Zuma remain in office: resign and make way for Zuma to fill their positions with his loyalists or wait for him to reshuffle them”.
There have also been reports that Deputy Agriculture Minister Bheki Cele and Arts and Culture Minister Nathi Mthethwa “almost came to blows”, apparently started by Cele mouthing off at an angry Mthethwa not taking responsibility for the Marikana massacre, which happened when Mthethwa was police minister. It’s understood this was partly said in the context of who should take the “responsibility” for the decline in electoral support for the ruling party.
Zuma will travel to Cuba on Tuesday to attend the funeral of late president Fidel Castro.