ANC denies reports Zuma wanted to quit presidency

President Jacob Zuma, March 17, 2016. REUTERS/Mike Hutchings
SA President Jacob Zuma, March 17, 2016. REUTERS/Mike Hutchings

JOHANNESBURG, March 22 (Reuters) – South Africa’s ruling African National Congress (ANC) on Tuesday denied reports that President Jacob Zuma had offered to resign following mounting claims of political interference by the leader’s wealthy business friends.

The Mail & Guardian and Sowetan newspapers reported that Zuma had offered to stand down at a meeting of the ANC’s top national executive committee this weekend, citing party sources who attended the summit.

Zuma offered to step down – report

By Mpho Raborife, News24

Johannesburg – President Jacob Zuma told members of the ANC’s national executive committee at the weekend that if they wanted him to step down they should tell him, the Mail & Guardian said on Tuesday.

“He told us we should tell him directly if we wanted him to step down, rather than to stab him in the back,” an NEC member reportedly told the publication.

According to two more NEC members, Zuma had allegedly told those at the meeting that he was aware that there were members in the party’s top structure who wanted him out.

Despite this, the NEC had decided not to recall Zuma and presented a united front to the media and the rest of South Africa.

The main reason for this decision was because recalling Zuma would have had a negative impact on the party ahead of its upcoming local government elections, the member told the publication.

“Imagine what that could have done to the image of the ANC? It would have been irresponsible of us if we did that,” the NEC member reportedly said.

The ANC’s NEC held its meeting at St George’s Hotel in Irene, just outside Pretoria at the end of a tense week in which Zuma’s relationship with the Gupta family was thrust into the spotlight.

Revelations by Deputy Finance Minister Mcebisi Jonas and former MP Vytjie Mentor that they had been offered Cabinet positions by the Guptas at the family’s home in Saxonwold, Johannesburg, led to the public and some party members calling on the NEC to take action.

On Sunday, ANC secretary general Gwede Mantashe told reporters at a briefing that the NEC had instructed officials and the national working committee to gather all pertinent information about the allegations.

According to the Mail & Guardian, a faction aligned to Mantashe was happy that it had managed to win key discussions within the NEC which included the matter relating to state capture by the Gupta family.

A faction supporting Zuma had not wanted the Guptas to be discussed nor the ANC’s decision about the family to be included in the statement released by Mantashe on Sunday night, the publication said. – News24


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