African National Congress president Cyril Ramaphosa has given the strongest indication yet that President Jacob Zuma could soon step down from office as the country’s head of state.
In an interview with eNCA on Sunday night, Ramaphosa said the question of whether Zuma should vacate office would be addressed “as time goes on”, however, it must be done in a manner that will not embarrass the embattled president.
“We need to deal with this matter with the level of maturity it requires, with the proper decorum, and I will say we should never do it in a way that is going to humiliate President Zuma. We should never do it in a manner that is going to also divide the nation,” Ramaphosa said.
Responding to a question on the “two centres of power” debate – with Ramaphosa at the helm of the governing party at Luthuli House and Zuma as state president – Ramaphosa said the ANC was the only centre of power.
“President Jacob Zuma is a deployee of the ANC in government. Clearly there has to be interface between those deployees who are deployed in government and the ANC,” he said.
Ramaphosa said both he and Zuma agreed to hold regular meetings, “to discuss issues that are decided on by the ANC so that deployees of the ANC in government can have a better understanding of how those should be implemented and executed”.
“Everyone has to be receptive to the decisions of the ANC because that is the political centre. Once you accept that is the political centre, it goes without saying that you have got the accept the decisions and direction that your given by the ANC,” he said.
In a statement on Sunday, the Presidency rejected “distortions and incorrect reports” in the media about Zuma’s recent meeting with Ramaphosa on January 7 at the official Dr John Langalibalele Dube residence in Durban. It has been widely reported in the media that Ramaphosa and Zuma have been in talks over his early exit from office.
Presidency spokesperson Bongani Ngqulunga said during their first meeting since Ramaphosa assumed office as leader of the ANC, the two discussed several issues and updated each other on matters in both government and the governing party.