POLITICS
14/02/2018 17:02 SAST | Updated 14/02/2018 17:23 SAST

It's Now Open Warfare Between Jacob Zuma And The ANC

A wounded and scalded head of state raises the spectre of violence in surprise interview with the SABC.

SABC

ANC president Cyril Ramaphosa's desire for a peaceful and managed transition from President Jacob Zuma to his own presidential administration lay shattered on Wednesday when open warfare broke out between the governing party and the head of state.

There were two battlefronts: the presidential guesthouse at Mahlamba Ndlopfu in Pretoria and Parliament in Cape Town.

He was hearing whispers, he said: 'When you leave in December, never come back' and he heard the rising taunt of 'Zuma must be removed'.

Zuma threw down the gauntlet to his party when he gave a no-holds-barred interview to the SABC in Pretoria and said he refused to resign after being recalled by his party on Tuesday. The president revealed that the past two months since Ramaphosa won at the ANC's national conference at Nasrec have been harsh on him.

He was hearing whispers, he said: "When you leave in December, never come back" and he heard the rising taunt of "Zuma must be removed".

The two movements suggested a party now at war with its deployee, as efforts at détènte went out of the window on both sides of the divide.

Earlier in the day, the ANC in Parliament manoeuvred itself into a position to lead a motion of no confidence against its own president, ensuring a bloody and ignominious end for its fourth head of state.

The two movements suggested a party now at war with its deployee, as efforts at détènte went out of the window on both sides of the divide.

"If the leadership is not careful, it could cause bigger problems. You don't just apply authority which could cause problems for the organisation," said the wounded, scalded Zuma. He claimed the country risked being plunged into a crisis if he is ousted on Thursday.

Zuma also raised the spectre of violence if he is ousted. In the interview, Zuma looked stressed and angry, like a cornered lion in a canned hunt

Zuma repeatedly said that the ANC should have accepted his package of transition measures ahead of a June resignation. He said that he had not been told his party was planning to lead the motion of no confidence in him. The President said on Wednesday afternoon that he would issue a statement of intent.

Zuma also raised the spectre of violence if he is ousted. In the interview, Zuma looked stressed and angry, like a cornered lion in a canned hunt. He sniped at and taunted his comrades in the ANC, whom he accused of going back on their promises about how his exit would work.

"There is a perception on the continent that 'Zuma is being elbowed out'"
– President Zuma

"I've been portrayed as defying the leadership – never in my life [have I done that]; this would be the first time."

The head of state came across as a leader from whom power has quickly vanished; repeatedly asking why his package of transition measures was not accepted. "I heard during the conference 'Zuma must not give Sona (the state of the nation address)', so I thought I should, therefore, engage the presiding officers [to] postpone the date."

And he came across as a man deeply concerned with saving face. "There's a perception in the continent, that 'Zuma is being elbowed out'." Zuma implied that Ramaphosa has promised African heads of state whom he met at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland in January, that he would not axe the incumbent "before his time".

The motion of no confidence scheduled for Cape Town tomorrow has the numbers to succeed. When it does, Zuma and his Cabinet are without jobs

He said he would have liked to introduce Ramaphosa onto the global and continental stages at the Brics summit in June and the African Union summit in July, so it appeared as though he had anointed the new leader.

Where will it end? The motion of no confidence scheduled in Cape Town tomorrow has the numbers to succeed. When it does, Zuma and his Cabinet are without jobs. Ramaphosa can then choose his own Cabinet.

But the risk to him is that it leaves Zuma and his pride of lions without food – and the hunted can turn hunters, provoking a long and sustained battle in the ANC.