A clear decision on President Jacob Zuma’s fate as head of state is now urgent, ANC deputy secretary general Jessie Duarte said on Tuesday.
Duarte said the ANC’s national executive committee (NEC) needed to put an end to speculation around Zuma’s future, as its decision would bind all members.
Zuma’s possible recall has divided the party, from it’s leaders to its grassroots members.
The NEC will now hold an emergency meeting in Cape Town on Wednesday after Zuma refused to step down voluntarily.
“The inability of [the] NEC to have a decision has already had an impact on members on the ground, creating confusion, indecision and is creating what we saw on the streets of Johannesburg yesterday (Monday), which we don’t accept.
“So it is important that we [NEC] have a clear decision that will guide everyone, without question or negative speculation,” Duarte said.
Pro and anti-Zuma protesters clashed outside Luthuli House on Monday.
Another ‘Zuma Must Go’ protest by ANC members, which had been planned in Pretoria for Tuesday, was cancelled following the national working committee’s (NWC) decision to hold an NEC meeting.
Duarte said she expected a long night of debate, as the NWC was also divided on whether to recall Zuma.
“There were different views. There was a dominant view in NWC, but it wasn’t the only view,” she said.
‘Vote of no confidence is not desirable’
Duarte would not be drawn on deliberations between Zuma and the top six on Sunday at his official home in Pretoria.
She said, however, that Zuma was taking the “matter seriously and understood the gravity of the matter”.
Sources told News24 that Zuma told the top six that he had done nothing wrong and was undeterred by threats of impeachment and a vote of no confidence set for February 22.
“[A] vote of no confidence is not desirable under any circumstances. We don’t think South Africans wish for us to embarrass the president of South Africa. That has been the intention eight times,” said Duarte.
Duarte said that if Zuma resigned, the country’s Constitution allowed for the deputy president to take over, whereas a vote of no confidence imposed a different set of rules.
When asked what would happen if Zuma refused to resign if he was recalled, Duarte said it had never happened in the history of the organisation.
“I have not met a deployee that has refused an instruction by the organisation. That has not happened,” she said.
Duarte said the NEC had also never voted on a matter, with members rather persuading each other.
She said the ANC would brief the nation as soon as the decision was made.