The National Assembly is set to remove President Jacob Zuma on Thursday as he continues to dig in his heels and refuses to vacate his office.
The House is set to elect elect Cyril Ramaphosa as the new president.
In an unprecedented move, the ANC will support a motion brought about by an opposition party, the Economic Freedom Fighters, calling for the National Assembly to relieve Zuma of his duties as the president of the republic.
The ANC will not support the EFF motion as it is, but will amend it and possibly add how Zuma has defied his own organisation by refusing to resign.
“It’s clear for us as the leadership of the ANC that we can no longer wait beyond today, we don’t want to keep South Africa waiting. If President Zuma will at some point respond, he will respond but we can’t continue waiting. A decision has been taken, it must be implemented,” the newly elected treasurer-general of the governing party, Paul Mashatile told parliamentary journalists earlier on Wednesday.
Mashatile addressed journalists just after a 90 minute urgent meeting of the ANC parliamentary caucus where he delivered the news of Zuma’s recall and the way forward, which includes ANC MPs voting to remove their former president and deployee in the highest office in the land.
The National Assembly is expected to elect Ramaphosa as the new president on Friday morning so that he can deliver his first state of the nation address (Sona) in the evening.
The deadline for Zuma to resign was Wednesday, according to Mashatile.
ANC chief whip Jackson Mthembu revealed that the EFF refused to withdraw a motion it tabled last month.
The ANC had wanted to remove Zuma with its own motion but with the EFF already having tabled its motion, it was impossible for the ANC to do the same until the EFF motion had been disposed of. Instead the governing party opted to “amend” the EFF submission.
“The amendments wouldn’t change the motion substantively,” explained Mthembu.
“It would have been ideally to present our own motion, ideally that would have been what we would have appreciated and what we would have loved.”
Mthembu said the substance of the EFF motion which “will result in the president going, that will still remain”.
Mthembu said the ANC’s reasoning will arise from the party’s 54th national conference and from the discussions that had ensued in the national executive committee this week.
Mthembu said the ANC had to move and elect a new president to create certainty, not only in the work of Parliament but the party had wanted the political programme of its government to be put forward to the nation.
Mthembu also indicated that they had to move because of the looming budget next Wednesday, which could not be shifted.
As a result, Parliament is planning a choc-a-bloc programme which begins with Zuma’s removal on Thursday, Ramaphosa’s election on Friday morning, the state of the nation address on Friday evening, Sona debate on Monday, the president response to the debate on Tuesday and the tabling of the national budget on Wednesday.
“We need to give certainty to the people of South Africa. There has been a lot of reportage that has indicated that our country is in a state of limbo. We cannot continue to be in a state of limbo, we need to bring certainty that, yes we are now on course, and government and parliament are working. We cannot afford to have parliament in a state of limbo,” said Mthembu.
With the exception of one MP, Tandi Mahambehlala, the ANC MPs did not object to the news of Zuma’s removal.
Mahambehlala warned that “removing a deployed cadre through a motion of no confidence is counter revolutionary”.
She had advanced the same argument in the NEC meeting earlier in the week.
Mashatile told journalists that he had informed ANC MPs that South Africans wanted to see change and wanted to see the new leadership taking over the management, not only of the ANC but of the affairs of the state to be able to deal with all the challenges that have been facing the nation. “We want to go on with renewal and focus on the things that our people have been asking us to do. We want to deal with the problems of corruption in state institutions and government and we want to focus on building the economy,” said Mashatile.