30/01/2018 10:50 SAST | Updated 30/01/2018 10:52 SAST

Zuma Will Not Leave Quietly – Presidency Staff

President Jacob Zuma knows what the Constitution says, say presidential staffers.

Former chief justice Pius Langa swears in Jacob Zuma as South Africa's president at the Union Buildings in Pretoria May 9, 2009.
Steve Crisp / Reuters
Former chief justice Pius Langa swears in Jacob Zuma as South Africa's president at the Union Buildings in Pretoria May 9, 2009.

President Jacob Zuma is unlikely to immediately pack his bags and leave if a delegation from the ANC comes to tell him time's up, say aides in the presidency.

The party's national executive committee has put in place a subcommittee to map Zuma's exit, but it's clear from HuffPost interviews with staff in the presidency that Zuma wants to remain the cartographer.

"The president is a man of strong opinions, and he knows his constitutional powers," said a staffer.

READ: Inside Zexit: When Zuma Is Likely To Leave... And Why

The Constitution invests significant authority in the state president. Ideally, Zuma would like to serve out his term until 2019, and he can see no constitutional impediments to keep him from doing so, say his team, canvassed by HuffPost.

Alet Pretorius /Getty Images
President Jacob Zuma during the announcement of new party leadership at the ANC national conference at the Nasrec Expo Centre on December 18, 2017 in Soweto, South Africa.

But if the ANC wants him to go, then he will. "The president's strategy will be to engage and not resist. He is socialised in the ANC. It is a big part of his identity and has played a central role in his life for five decades," said the presidency staffer. "It has to be a smooth transition."

Zuma will, however, seek a long debate and engagement with his ANC comrades before leaving. In this, he will adopt a different position to former President Thabo Mbeki, who quit once he was instructed to do so by the party's former general-secretary, Gwede Mantashe.

If the ANC wants him to go, then he will.

Zuma's ability to mobilise to protect his self-interest is legendary, and he has clearly started to do so. At the weekend, his most senior political allies said he would not be pushed in a hurry. Both ANC secretary-general Ace Magashule and his deputy, Jessie Duarte, came out with guns blazing to protect Zuma. In KwaZulu-Natal, the party's strongmen are mobilising against the party's decision to put in place an interim team to run the province.

KwaZulu-Natal is Zuma's power base, and the province is feeling tetchy and scalded. It suffered defeat in court, which judged the provincial bosses to be illegally elected. At the party's conference at Nasrec in December, the province's candidate for party president, Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, was defeated, and not a single member from the province made it to the top-six leadership.

The province is ripe to be a staging post for a massive fight-back by Zuma, a man well-schooled in snatching victory from the jaws of defeat.

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