A meeting of the ANC’s national executive committee (NEC) on Friday night agreed that former party leader Jacob Zuma should be removed as the country’s president – but his removal should be managed by the newly elected ANC officials.
In effect, this means Zuma’s removal would be inevitable but the timing is yet to be decided.
Zuma’s position in the national government had been under the spotlight since the ANC’s elective conference in December, which brought an end to his two five-year terms as leader of the party.
Two sources who were in the NEC meeting on Friday told TimesLIVE there was agreement that Zuma should not be in office when the party started its campaigning for the 2019 general elections, as this could have a negative impact on the party.
According to an insider, the NEC meeting initially heard calls for Zuma to be removed immediately after the meeting’s conclusion. However, support later grew for his removal to be handled in a more managed way by party officials.
The subject of Zuma’s removal from office was brought up on the second day of the two-day NEC meeting – taking place in Irene, Pretoria – and quickly found support after Deputy Minister of Agriculture Bheki Cele firmly argued why it was necessary.
A source said the discussion about Zuma’s removal followed a debate earlier in the day about who should be on the ANC’s national working committee.
The NEC is split among those who once fiercely opposed Zuma and those seen to have once defended him.
One source said some Zuma sympathisers had argued he should be convinced to leave office amicably and gracefully.