Mantashe: ANC NEC agrees with SC report

Members South Africa's ruling party, the African National Congress, thwarted an attempt to eject the nation's president Jacob Zuma from office on Tuesday by senior members of the party.

At a press conference on Tuesday, ANC secretary general Gwede Mantashe said the party's top decision-making body had decided it was more important to work towards unity in the organisation than to recall Mr Zuma.

"The fact that we have not forced a president of the ANC to step down means that we affirm him as the president of the ANC and president of the republic".

"Following robust, honest, candid and at times hard discussions, the NEC did not support the call for the President to step down", said the ANC.

It is understood that Zuma's detractors will continue to lobby support for their cause in the build-up to a consultative conference, the first in post-democratic South Africa. The mounting scandals also hurt the ANC in municipal polls earlier this year, leading them to lose control of several major cities.

He easily survived a vote of no confidence in parliament on November 10 - and will face his third of 2016 next week after an urgent application by the rowdy populist Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) party.

South Africa's Constitutional Court ruled Zuma had broken constitutional rules when he did not reimburse the government for money it spent on his private home.

Mantashe said the recalling of former President Thabo Mbeki was a combined decision and now they ANC can not take calls from the opposition parties to fire the President.

He said Zuma had not participated in the debate on his future but had only made comments at the end of the meeting. It has used it once before, in 2008 ousting President Thabo Mbeki to open the door for Zuma.

What was anticipated to be an ordinary meeting of the ANC's highest decision-making structure turned into a fight for Zuma's political survival after three members of his Cabinet, led by Tourism Minister Derek Hanekom, on Saturday supported a proposed motion of no confidence in Zuma.

Local media said the meeting - which was extended into Monday evening - was tense, with tempers flaring and some ministers threatening to resign if Zuma stayed, a claim the party denied.

The latest efforts against Zuma follow recent calls by ANC veterans, the Save SA and other social and community organizations for the president to step down. "We are now on the cusp of what may be a divisive and bruising succession battle", Matshiqi said.

  • Jacqueline Ellis