ANC National Chairperson Gwede Mantashe has given the strongest indication yet that the talks on President Jacob Zuma's fate are nearing an end.
Mantashe confirmed to SABC that the party's top 6 is meeting today without Zuma.
"There is agreement on the end game, what is being discussed is the timing and the process that should be followed," Mantashe told the public broadcaster on the sidelines of the party's 106 birthday celebration in Mpumalanga. Earlier in his address, Mantashe lashed out at those insulting party president Cyril Ramaphosa over ongoing Zuma to force him to resign and appealed for patience. "If the president of ANC says wait for me, I am still talking to President Jacob Zuma, there is no need to insult him," Mantashe said.
Allow Ramaphosa to use his personality and art of leadership to manage, Mantashe said in the SABC interview.
"But if he is going to be leading on the basis of the cacophony of noises around us, he will commit mistakes – it is [for the] protection of the president of the ANC to tell analysts to back off. Don't dictate what he should do and put labels to force him to do what you think must be done now," Mantashe said, slamming analysts who this week asked "where are Ramaphosa's balls" amidst the country's anxiety over Zuma's future.
Ramaphosa met with Zuma on Tuesday, after he refused to step down during a meeting with the top six on Sunday. The two were widely expected to hold another meeting this weekend, which will signal a final decision on Zuma's future.
However, a presidential official told News24 that there was no meeting planned between Zuma and Ramaphosa. Many reporters were camped outside Zuma's official residence in Pretoria.
Sources told News24 on Friday Zuma and Ramaphosa were expected to conclude talks on Zuma's exit within the next 48 hours, after which the outcome will be announced to the nation.
The two were said to be discussing "cosmetic issues", including the payment of Zuma's future legal fees and security for him and his family. Earlier in the week, Ramaphosa is said to have told ANC MPs that immunity from prosecution was not part of their discussions.
Mantashe said Ramaphosa was dealing with a "complex situation", however, officials were agreed on the "end game."
"People don't want us to think through issues. They want us to rush through issues, but we must be allowed to manage a very complex situation carefully," Mantashe said.
No expectations from top 6 meeting
When asked what South Africans should expect from the top six meeting, he said there should be no expectations.
"South Africans must appreciate that the leadership of the ANC is hard at work. Give them space to manage that situation carefully and precisely... so that we don't stumble. It is important that when you manage a sensitive issue never to be excited. Don't follow emotion," he said.
The ANC is under pressure to force Zuma out of the Union buildings, with party supporters and opposition planning mass protests to force him to resign.
Opposition parties have also asked for the vote of no confidence against Zuma set for February 22 to be brought forward.
This week in an unprecedented move, the State of the Nation Address was postponed to allow the ANC to finalise Zuma's fate. It was followed by the party postponing the party's emergency National Executive Committee meeting that was due on Wednesday to discuss Zuma's recall.