02/02/2018 09:05 SAST | Updated 03/02/2018 12:18 SAST

Is Zuma In Or Out? This Is What We Know...

Ramaphosa wants to move on, but the wily fox that is Zuma has bought himself time.

President Jacob Zuma.
Siphiwe Sibeko / Reuters
President Jacob Zuma.

We're days away from the annual state opening of Parliament where the president will deliver the state of the nation address (Sona). There are rumours abound about President Jacob Zuma's future and whether or not the ANC will remove him before Thursday or if he'll be able to cling on.

Sumaya Hisham / Reuters
President Jacob Zuma at last year's Sona.

Well, here are the facts:


The presidency recently released his short-term schedule, which included delivering the Sona in Cape Town. His government's budget is also due to be delivered two weeks after the opening of Parliament. That's a lot of moving parts to upset if he were to be removed.


If supporters of Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa had the numbers to remove Zuma at a meeting of the ANC's national executive committee (NEC) they would have done so already. The balance of power is much closer than many want to believe.

Siphiwe Sibeko / Reuters
Cyril Ramaphosa and Jacob Zuma in January this year.


How to remove Zuma... Cajoling and convincing him have not worked and will probably not work. A special NEC meeting would have the powers to do so, as would a motion of no confidence in the National Assembly (NA). But there's no time before Sona and there are no meetings of either the NEC or the NA scheduled. Sona is set for February 8 and the budget speech for February 21.


Cabinet had its annual lekgotla this week, where all the major elements that need to be incorporated into Sona were discussed. The speech sets out government's priorities for the year and was scheduled way before Nasrec. Zuma and Ramaphosa chaired the meeting and beamed for the cameras. As you were, they seemed to say.


There is nothing in Zuma's makeup and historical conduct to suggest that he will step down from the presidency in the interests of the party and perhaps, the country. The longer his adversaries delay the coup de grace, the stronger he gets. Remember the firing of Nhlanhla Nene? He was weak after the debacle, but drew strength from his enemies' inability to deliver the knockout.


Zuma made his representations as to why he should not face 18 charges based on 783 counts of corruption, racketeering and money-laundering on Wednesday night. He knows the score better than anyone else and is acutely aware that, although power might be shifting to Ramaphosa, the awesome powers of executive office are not to be scoffed at. Why give it up and lose access and insight?


If the ANC decides to table a motion of no confidence in Parliament, it would mean sacrificing an ANC leader at the altar of the opposition -- something that even the most rabid Zuma opponent within the ANC finds galling. They want to find internal avenues to the problem and do not want to take it into a public forum like the NA. Zuma knows this and will use it to his advantage.


The year has now started. Parliament is in full swing, committees are meeting, national crises are unfolding and the January lull is something of the past. Rampahosa wants to move on, but the wily fox that is Zuma has bought himself time.