The African National Congress (ANC) had planned to fire President Jacob Zuma as the head of state had the national executive committee (NEC) met on Wednesday evening, this is according to the ANC Treasurer-General, Paul Mashatile.
Mashatile who as early as Tuesday night had already given a strong indication that the party’s top brass were preparing to oust Zuma from office if he didn’t resign.
But those plans came to halt when President Zuma reached a deal with ANC President Cyril Ramaphosa – a deal that resulted in Wednesday’s scheduled NEC meeting being called off.
Addressing investors at the Mining Indaba in Cape Town on Tuesday, just hours before Ramaphosa announced the postponement of the NEC meeting that would have decided Zuma’s fate, Mashatile said Zuma would have been recalled from office if he did not step down.
Mashatile, who was unaware that the NEC meeting was about to be called off, told his audience that they would go to the powerful gathering to remove Zuma after he had refused to resign when the party’s Top 6 met on Sunday evening.
He gave details of their meeting with Zuma and detailed how the president had asked them what the ANC meant by a “transition period”.
“On Sunday evening, President Zuma says to us, ‘What do you guys mean by transition?’ He said this is a strange word that you guys have just coined. And we said to him it’s handing over power from you to Cyril,” Mashatile told delegates, who burst into laughter.
Mashatile’s comments are contained in a recording, which was sent to the Republic Mail on Wednesday night.
“We were saying to President Zuma on Sunday that we don’t want two centres of power; we want president Ramaphosa to take control not only of the ANC, but [also] the affairs of the state. And we were very clear about it”.
He informed the audience that President Zuma indicated that he was standing firm and would not step down voluntarily.
“President Zuma basically said to us: ‘I’m not going anywhere, I’m not convinced by you guys so I’m not going to resign. You can go back and report to your national working committee and the NEC that I said I’m not resigning’,” Mashatile said.
He added that Zuma’s removal was crucial as it meant that the ANC top six would not have to first consider what Zuma thought of issues before they took decisions about the running of the country.
While Mashatile appears to adamant that the ANC have a clear transition plan between the 5th and 6th administration, Political Analyst, Molifi Tshabalala dismiss this by saying the ANC appear to have no transitional plan.
According to Tshabalala, “The ANC seems not to have a transitional plan from President Jacob Zuma to Cyril Ramaphosa. This has created this crisis, which has spilled over into the public. Whatever happens behind closed doors would have to boil down to a compromise on both parties.”
“This unfolding crisis paints Ramaphosa’s leadership in a bad light. He cannot push for an immediate transition with a divided top six and NEC.”
Mashatile added that they don’t want President Zuma to deliver the State of the Nation Address (SONA).
“It must be clear that the message is for the future and I am sure you’ll all agree that the one who is leaving the country can’t give the message for the future,” he said.
National Assembly Speaker Baleka Mbete announced on Tuesday that the unprecedented step to postpone Thursday’s SONA until further notice was made following numerous “threats” to the event.
However, Tshabalala believes that Ramaphosa “should have either let Zuma deliver SONA, or ask him to let him to deliver it as deputy president. This would have averted the crisis. More so, given that SONA stems from ANC Lekgotla, which had attended.”