President Jacob Zuma has reportedly been given an ultimatum by some members of his party to step down by next Tuesday or risk another vote of no confidence motion, The Star reported on Thursday.
ANC national executive committee (NEC) sources told The Star that talks on how to remove Zuma began at the ANC's national conference in December, and have gained momentum since a damning Constitutional Court finding that Parliament failed to hold him to account over the Nkandla debacle.
Newly-elected ANC president Cyril Ramaphosa's supporters in the NEC also reportedly want to test their strength by tabling another motion of no confidence against him.
The ANC's NEC will reportedly meet for the first time on Wednesday, and Zuma was reportedly told to voluntarily leave before then.
At least five NEC members told the newspaper that outspoken former tourism minister Derek Hanekom was preparing another motion against Zuma. Hanekom brought the previous attempt to oust Zuma in the NEC, which Zuma ultimately survived.
On Twitter, in response to a tweet about the removal of Zuma, Hanekom said he hoped that "sanity would prevail the 10th" - a possible reference to next week's NEC meeting.
Perhaps I am naive, but I am hoping that some sanity will prevail, and the sensible and honorouble thing will be done before the 10th. https://t.co/V34aC0EXev— Derek Hanekom (@Derek_Hanekom) December 31, 2017
Zuma has survived two attempts to remove him in the NEC, eight motions of no confidence in Parliament, and calls by alliance partners the SACP, Cosatu, and ANC stalwarts and veterans for his removal.
A group of ANC stalwarts repeated their call this week:
Anglican Archbishop of Cape Town Thabo Makgoba was the latest high profile person to call for Zuma's removal. He did so during his Christmas midnight mass, according to the SABC.
An ANC NEC member from the Eastern Cape told The Star that the party was concerned about the impact Zuma would have on its electoral prospects in 2019, after seeing the impact of national politics on the 2016 municipal elections.
But according to a report in The Witness this week, Zuma's supporters say talk of Zuma's removal are just rumours.
Provincial secretary of the disbanded Provincial Executive Committee (PEC) in KwaZulu-Natal, Super Zuma, told The Witness: "From what we are picking up there is nothing tangible about those statements, it's just a rumour and we don't know where it is coming from
And Ramaphosa supporters are reportedly concerned about a possible backlash, should their attempts to remove Zuma fail.
An NEC member and Ramaphosa backer told The Witness, ""There is a general consensus that he should go, but people are also mindful of the negative impact his removal might have on party unity. If not handled with the necessary care, chances are good that Zuma's supporters would revolt.
"We can't afford to alienate his supporters, particularly given that we need a united ANC to win next year's elections."