23/12/2017 12:44 SAST | Updated 23/12/2017 13:31 SAST

ANC Negotiating Zuma Exit Behind Closed Doors -- Report

According to Sunday Times, senior ANC officials are in secret talks to negotiate the exit for President Jacob Zuma, as early as January 2018.

Siphiwe Sibeko / Reuters
President of South Africa Jacob Zuma gestures to his supporters at the 54th National Conference of the ruling African National Congress (ANC) at the Nasrec Expo Centre in Johannesburg, South Africa December 16, 2017.

Senior ANC officials are reportedly in secret talks to negotiate an early exit for President Jacob Zuma possibly as soon as January, the Sunday Times has reported.

According to the Sunday newspaper, talks concerning whether Zuma should be removed as state president before the end of his term are being driven by close allies -- rather than distant foes -- ostensibly in an attempt to negotiate an embarrassment-free exit for the embattled leader.

Archbishop Thabo Makgoba during his Sunday sermon -- a day before Christmas -- is expected to augment the call for Zuma to be removed, and put pressure on the newly-elected ANC president Cyril Ramaphosa and national executive committee (NEC) to "boldly and quickly" remove the incumbent state leader.

Siphiwe Sibeko / Reuters
South Africa December 16, 2017. REUTERS/Siphiwe Sibeko

According to the Sunday Times, new ANC secretary-general Ace Magashule is among those involved in the talks to negotiate Zuma's exit. Minister of Police Fikile Mbalula, it reported, has also contacted several senior ANC leaders, including some close to Ramaphosa, to discuss a potential deal. Among those approached, it claimed, is NEC member Bheki Cele.

Siphiwe Sibeko / Reuters
Africa December 17, 2017. REUTERS/Siphiwe Sibeko

On the other hand, minister of Arts and Culture Nathi Mthethwa told The Sunday Times it would be incorrect to raise Zuma's removal at an ANC meeting.

"The NEC will have to sit down, look at issues and look at resolutions. It will be difficult to attack individuals without reflecting on issues. I don't think it will be correct. We must not rush things because it might divide the ANC."

Another NEC member said that it would be "logistically impossible" to remove Zuma before the state of the nation address, but said Ramaphosa would build a case against 'Baba' in the meantime".

Meanwhile, President Zuma on Friday lodged an appeal against a judgment by the High Court in Pretoria that ordered him to establish a commission of inquiry into state capture. Zuma will argue against rulings that he should personally pay costs and that he must institute the judicial commission, among others.

Opposition parties criticised Zuma, with the EFF in particular saying he feels no shame and should step down and allow his successor to appoint the judge to conduct the inquiry into state capture commission.

The full story features today in The Sunday Times.