PRESIDENT Jacob Zuma is adamant that he is going nowhere for now.
Sources close to the presidency confirmed to The New Age yesterday that this was Zuma’s message to an ANC officials delegation, led by the party’s deputy president David Mabuza, who were to meet him last night.
The sources said that Zuma “threatened” to call off the meeting after being “kept waiting by the officials”.
“The president is upset that he was kept waiting. How do you arrange a meeting for a particular time and then fail to pitch? This is disrespect to the president. If they do arrive, the president has a clear message for them: ‘I am going nowhere’. If he is going to be convinced otherwise, the officials must give him concrete reasons for him to quit. The president is also adamant that he will deliver the SONA.” sources said. The sources also said the meeting was not expected to be a lengthy one because he had other meetings lined up last night.
“The president is not entertaining any proposal for him step down because he is concerned about the consequences of such an act,” the sources said.
ANC chairperson Gwede Mantashe confirmed yesterday in Ekurhuleni that the meeting with Zuma was taking place last night. He said they would not seek to “humiliate” him but to do what was best for the party and country.
“We are going to have a discussion with him, what is in the best interest of the ANC, the country and our economy,” he said.
Tensions are set to further heighten today when pro- and anti-Zuma supporters converge on the party’s Luthuli House headquarters.
Zuma supporters consisting of the South African Unemployed Workers Union, Black First Land First (BLF) members and a host of other organisations have warned the ANC’s top leadership against calling on Zuma to step down as head of state before his expected State of the Nation address (Sona) this week.
Adding to the mix, a group of ANC members yesterday called for a national shutdown if Zuma failed to announce his resignation in the wake of yesterday’s meeting.
The group, which is expected to protest under the banner of #ZumaMustGo national strike, have vowed to protest for every day Zuma remains in office.
“We are going to touch him. If the ANC top six are not going to touch him, we will remove him ourselves,” a member of the group said.
“We are going to the street to take him out.”
Meanwhile, ANC Women’s League (ANCWL) president Bathabile Dlamini told The New Age at the weekend that whatever the outcome of Zuma’s meeting with senior party leaders on his political future, she “hoped” that the ANC could emerge from this quagmire more united to prevent an implosion.
“We hope the officials went there to discuss issues and we hope for the best outcome. Officials have to ensure that the ANC remains intact. It’s time for the leadership to show its stance of unity,” she said.
Opposition parties have given National Assembly speaker Baleka Mbete an ultimatum to postpone Thursday’s Sona or face court action.
The parties have given Mbete until the close of business today to postpone Zuma’s scheduled address. They have also demanded that February’s no confidence motion against Zuma on February 22 be voted on through a secret ballot.
“What we find objectionable is that your offices have decided to proceed with the next Sona without affording the House an opportunity to exercise its responsibility in this regard.
“In our view, this is yet another failure on your part to fulfil your responsibility, to enable the National Assembly to hold the executive, starting with the president, to account,” opposition leaders said.
Sifiso Mahlangu and Bonolo Selebano