South Africa’s President Jacob Zuma has been facing fickle allegiances within the African National Congress ever since the election of Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa as the new ANC president at last year’s party congress.
Political analysts have asserted that Zuma might have overestimated the strength of his support within the party’s National Executive Committee, with members already reportedly shifting their loyalty to their new leader, Ramaphosa.
Despite Ramaphosa’s ascension to the country’s top job being planned for next year following the 2019 national elections, there is much speculation as to the odds of Zuma being recalled by the party’s NEC before the end of his term.
In 2008, following Jacob Zuma’s rise to the ANC party’s presidency, former President Thabo Mbeki was summarily recalled to make way for the Zuma era.
Parliament’s State of the Nation Address was scheduled to take place on Thursday, February 8, but was postponed amidst rumors of plans to oust Zuma before he can deliver his annual speech in the National Assembly. According to the president himself, it was he who requested the postponement.
However, according to a report by the Sowetan, opposition parties are not convinced that the request for a delay did, in fact, originate in the office of the presidency. Speaking to reporters at parliament, the Democratic Alliance’s John Steenhuisen posited that the ANC was merely “trying to give a dignified exit to the man.” Moreover, Steenhuisen believes that “Mr. Zuma’s hand is being forced.”
Meanwhile, ANC Deputy Secretary-General Jessie Duarte has indicated that a final decision on President Zuma’s fate is a matter of urgency. The NEC was due to hold an emergency meeting on Wednesday in Cape Town, where Duarte believed decisive action would’ve been taken, but the meeting has subsequently been canceled.
“The inability of the NEC to have [sic] 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 [Monday], which we don’t accept. So it is important that we have a clear decision that will guide everyone, without question or negative speculation.”
Elsewhere, the Economic Freedom Fighters’ Julius Malema, former leader of the ANC Youth League and previously a staunch supporter of Jacob Zuma, took to Twitter on Tuesday to make a bold claim that Zuma “will resign anytime from now.”
Malema is known for making frequently accurate predictions on the ANC’s internal party matters, but time will tell if he is to be right this time.
Below is a brief guide to alleged reasons for the postponement of the State of the Nation Address.