Ruling tightens noose for Zuma
With impeachment a growing possibility, president's camp starts to talk terms
President Jacob Zuma came under even more pressure to leave office after the Constitutional Court ruled on Friday that the National Assembly failed to act against him on the Nkandla matter.
The court ruling gave ANC leaders, including those who supported him, more ammunition to call for his early exit if the party is to stand any chance of winning the 2019 general elections.
In a brief media statement yesterday, ANC deputy secretary-general Jessie Duarte said the matter would be added to the agenda when the new national executive committee meets in East London on January 10.
The court directed the National Assembly to establish rules on how to impeach a president, adding that it had failed to determine whether Zuma had breached section 89(1)(a) or (b) of the constitution.
In a majority judgment, the court ordered the National Assembly to determine without delay whether the president has breached the constitution.
This puts more pressure on Zuma to negotiate an early exit that would spare him the embarrassment of being impeached. His supporters are said to have approached ANC president Cyril Ramaphosa's group to negotiate a dignified departure.
NDZ FOR DEPUTY PRESIDENT
The Sunday Times understands that Zuma's backers want Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma to be named the country's deputy president when Zuma leaves office, as part of the conditions they have set out.
A party leader sympathetic to Dlamini-Zuma, who is close to the discussions, said new ANC deputy president and Mpumalanga premier David Mabuza had told his allies he was in no rush to leave his province and would allow Dlamini-Zuma to occupy the position.
"That discussion [about Zuma's early exit] is there. It's not a question of whether it's going to happen or not. The discussion is how it is going to happen," said the party leader, who asked not to be named as he did not have authority to speak on the matter.
Another party leader said: "The NEC now has solid grounds beyond reasonable doubt to recall uBaba kaDuduzane. He can't deliver the state of the nation directing us to the 2019 elections."
There is talk within the party that Ramaphosa must be the man to take over from Zuma, instead of a caretaker president.
The NEC now has solid grounds to recall uBaba ka DuduzaneANC leadership source
PERKS AT RISK
"There are external and internal expectations that he must step in. It has to be him. There is no other way. He has made big promises. Now he has to deliver on them," said another party leader.
Deputy Agriculture Minister Bheki Cele is said to be leading the negotiations from the Ramaphosa side. Attempts to get hold of Cele failed.
The idea of appointing Dlamini-Zuma deputy president is said to have been raised by her supporters in KwaZulu-Natal.
But provincial secretary Super Zuma denied this. "We have not spoken about that. There is nothing of the sort. This is something that is being created."
Friday's Constitutional Court ruling will force Super Zuma and other backers of the president to consider their options.
Parliament will have to establish a process that would have serious consequences as Zuma would be required to appear and be cross-examined - something that may be embarrassing for the president and more damaging to the ANC ahead of the 2019 elections.
If impeachment goes ahead, Zuma will lose all the perks of being a former president, including his salary, bodyguards and blue-light convoys.
Political analyst Somadoda Fikeni said the judgment presented a big test for the new leadership. "If they do nothing, the ANC brand gets damaged, and if they do something it may expose splits within the newly elected leadership," he said.
On Twitter, DA leader Mmusi Maimane called for an urgent meeting of parliament's rules committee to begin impeachment processes.
Parliament spokesman Moloto Mothapo said the institution would comply with the judgment.
- Additional Reporting by Ernest Mabuza