How long will Jacob Zuma remain South African president, and who will succeed him? Will there be a temporary caretaker president?
The awkwardness of having two centres of power has been evident in the short time since Cyril Ramaphosa was elected ANC president.
Ramaphosa’s Christmas Eve address to the nation was presidential. So, too, was his handling of the Khoisan hunger strike, which Zuma had ignored.
In contrast to Ramaphosa, Zuma continues to give the impression of being obsessed with his own survival. He is again trying to abuse taxpayers’ money to fight court battles.
Obviously, this unhealthy situation must be brought to an end. But when and how?
Here are some relevant dates. As ANC president, Ramaphosa will deliver the party’s traditional “January 8” address, which will carry that label even though it will happen on January 13.
But who will deliver the State of the Nation Address (Sona) on February 8?
This annual event kicks off the parliamentary season when the president addresses a joint sitting of the National Assembly and the National Council of Provinces.
Last week political analyst Daniel Silke told The Citizen: “I would find it peculiar if Zuma delivered the State of the Nation Address.”.
Indeed, the two centres of power conundrum will be highlighted if the January 8 and Sona speeches are given by leaders with different agendas.
Despite attempts at party unity, Ramaphosa and Zuma do not sing from the same hymn sheet. There are practical difficulties in removing Zuma before February 8, particularly if he resists an invitation to step down.
In 2008, Mbeki agreed to bow out after realising he had lost majority support within the party’s national executive committee (NEC), the highest decision-making body between conferences.
Zuma may calculate, rightly or wrongly, that he has a fighting chance to stay in office until closer to the 2019 elections. Only parliament can elect or recall a president.
So, if Zuma resisted, parliament would have to be convened to vote him out, and to elect a new president.
That could be difficult to arrange when parliament has not yet been opened. So if Zuma wants to dig in his heels, he will probably deliver Sona 2018, which will confuse the masses.
The way forward should be clearer after the first meeting of the new NEC in East London on January 10, when the balance of forces will become evident.
I agree with the Ancient Roman Pompey: “More people worship the rising than the setting sun”.
Zuma’s star is inexorably waning. People seem to assume that if Zuma is recalled, as Thabo Mbeki was in 2008, Ramaphosa will move into the Union Buildings. However, in 2008 in was not ANC president Zuma who replaced Mbeki.
That role was played by ANC deputy president Kgalema Motlanthe, who was caretaker national president from September 2008 until the May 2009 elections.
Current ANC deputy president is dodgy David Mabuza. Should he succeed Zuma, in the way that caretaker Motlanthe succeeded Mbeki?
No. We do not need another fox in charge of the henhouse. Quick recall may not necessarily be a good idea after all.