POLITICS
09/01/2018 14:52 SAST | Updated 09/01/2018 14:53 SAST

Zuma Exit: ANC Must Be Careful Or Be Gone

The ANC has its hands full trying to find an amicable solution with minimal impact on the party.

President Jacob Zuma gestures during the ANC's 54th national conference at the Nasrec Expo Centre in Johannesburg, December 16, 2017.
Siphiwe Sibeko / Reuters
President Jacob Zuma gestures during the ANC's 54th national conference at the Nasrec Expo Centre in Johannesburg, December 16, 2017.

ANALYSIS

The noose is tightening around President Jacob Zuma's neck –– a multitude of unsuccessful court battles, and a growing eagerness in the Cyril Ramaphosa-led ANC to have him recalled are both indications of the hangman hovering behind the head of state.

It comes down to how the party handles Zuma's exit.

One option would be for Ramaphosa to strike a deal: immunity for Zuma and his family on state capture allegations in return for a voluntary resignation. Zuma would leave peacefully, and his support base would remain relatively silent.

But opposition parties would take the matter to court –– the EFF has already threatened to do so if an immunity deal is struck.

READ: Does Ramaphosa Have The Political Muscle To Take Zuma Down?

Another option would be for the ANC's national executive committee to recall Zuma. But this may result in a pushback from the Zuma faction and the worsening of party infighting.

The third would be to leave it up to Parliament, once it has finalised new regulations for impeachment. This, however, would open the gates for opposition parties to call for early elections, should Zuma be impeached.

There is also the chance that Zuma will remain untouched until his term ends in 2019, an eventuality that will cost the party a further loss in voter confidence and support, come the national elections.

The ANC therefore has its hands full trying to find an amicable solution with minimal impact on the party.

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Political analyst Ralph Mathekga said Zuma's supporters should realise that completing his term may be detrimental to the party come 2019, so the focus should then shift to negotiating his exit.

"The ANC will be more interested in handling the matter internally than having Zuma being ousted by Parliament. They will have to expedite the process internally to allow this. An impeachment through Parliament has more serious repercussions, as it could mean opposition parties calling for early elections," he said.

"Handling it amicably through the party will save the ANC the embarrassment of an impeachment through Parliament. And this won't solve the problems of unity. If Zuma appears to be victimised through the process, it will be detrimental to the party, as his allies will fight back... The ANC will not be able to control the consequences, should Zuma be impeached."

Politics expert Susan Booysen said recalling Zuma may not have negative consequences on the ANC at all; instead, it might restore public confidence in the party and help the economy.

"The chances of the ANC losing out if Zuma is recalled is unlikely. The authority Zuma had in the party stemmed from his position as ANC president, and that authority is now waning. He still has authority in state structures, like intelligence, however, which may be problematic," she said.

"It will be immensely detrimental for the ANC if there is another vote of no confidence in Parliament, which might be successful this time around."