South Africa’s ruling ANC party has resolved to remove Jacob Zuma as head of state after he refused to resign and reportedly demanded three months more in office.
The party’s powerful 107-member national executive committee (NEC) met for 13 hours at St, George’s hotel, Irene, outside Pretoria, and decided it would “recall” Zuma from his job as national president, several local independent media said.
“It took a brutal 13 hours, but the ANC’s national executive committee has decided to recall President Jacob Zuma as head of state,” the Times newspaper said citing unnamed sources.
Other media reported that the party will write to Zuma ordering him to stand down as president of Africa’s most advanced economy, after he had asked for three more months in office.
Earlier, state broadcaster SABC said the ANC had given Zuma 48 hours to turn in his resignation.
News 24 tweeted: “Breaking ANC NEC has decided to recall President Jacob Zuma after he earlier refused to resign. Sources say the meeting turned down Zuma’s request for a 3 months stay. The ANC will write to him a letter on its decision, then they will hear from Zuma.”
There was no official announcement and ANC officials were not reachable to confirm the reports.
The party committee can “recall” the head of state, essentially forcing him to step down, but he is under no constitutional obligation to obey.
He will then likely be ousted via a parliamentary vote of no-confidence within days.
African National Congress chief Cyril Ramaphosa reportedly left the meeting that ran late into the night to meet Zuma at his official Pretoria residence. His motorcade was seen returning to the venue of the party meeting at midnight after about an hour. Three hours after that, the talks closed.
Ramaphosa, the de-facto president-in-waiting, had been in negotiations with Zuma who rejected an earlier request from party leaders to step down more than a week ago.
The stalemate around Zuma’s future plunged South Africa into political uncertainty over who is running the country, with a series of public events cancelled including last Thursday’s keynote annual State of the Nation address to parliament.
“We know you want this matter to be finalised,” Ramaphosa, 65, told a party rally in Cape Town on Sunday to rapturous cheering.
“We know you want closure… Because our people want this matter to be finalised, the NEC will be doing precisely that.”
South African opposition parties on Monday called for early elections as the ANC’s leadership battle ground on.
“We must proceed to the dissolution of parliament… subsequent to that, we move on to an early election,” Democratic Alliance (DA) party leader Mmusi Maimane told reporters, speaking alongside several opposition parties.
The parliamentary speaker announced that an opposition request for a no-confidence vote against Zuma on Tuesday was still being considered on Monday evening.