The next 14 days leading up to Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba’s budget speech may be the busiest yet for government as it prepares to either announce President Jacob Zuma’s departure – or its failure to pry the keys to the country from his tenacious grip.
Parliamentary spokesperson Moloto Mothapo told The Citizen yesterday the State of the Nation address (Sona) will take place before the budget speech.
However, a date has yet to be set following Speaker Baleka Mbete’s postponement of Sona, while ANC president Cyril Ramaphosa has appealed for patience from frustrated South Africans.
“President Jacob Zuma and I began direct discussions on the transition and matters relating to his position as the president of the Republic,” Ramaphosa said in a statement.
“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 (yesterday). This will enable President Zuma and myself to conclude our discussions and report back to our organisation and the country in the coming days.”
This too has no timeline and it seemed from Ramaphosa’s statement South Africans will be left to gnaw at whatever is left of their nails until a decision about Zuma’s position is made – somewhere between today and February 21.
“We will be able to communicate on President Zuma’s position as President of the Republic once we have finalised all pertinent matters,” Ramaphosa said .
Ramaphosa’s last line was by no means an admission Zuma would be gone in the next two weeks.
Of course in 10 years’ time, assuming Ramaphosa aims for a second term, South African’s could be going through exactly the same machinations if he falls out of public favour as national elections and the ANC elective conferences are held up to 18 months apart.
“There may be good reason for the ANC to think about aligning the election dates so the terms of office can run simultaneously to avoid the two centres of power clash,” said political analyst Daniel Silke.
“But in a strange way – and we see it in particular this year – the fact the two offices do not run in sync is almost a safety valve in that if a president is performing poorly, and Zuma has been performing poorly, there is then a chance the full term of office would not be served out.”