POLITICS
13/02/2018 11:06 SAST | Updated 13/02/2018 11:24 SAST

So, What Are Zuma's Options Now?

For now, "he is showing the ANC the middle finger and breaking with tradition," says analyst.

President Jacob Zuma before speaking to members of the Twelve Apostles' Church in Christ in 2016.
Rogan Ward / Reuters
President Jacob Zuma before speaking to members of the Twelve Apostles' Church in Christ in 2016.

Although the official announcement is yet to be made, it is apparent that the ANC's national executive committee (NEC) has opted to recall President Jacob Zuma.

According to various media reports quoting sources within the NEC - which sat for more than 12 hours on Monday - the party's highest decision-making body has given Zuma 48 hours to tender his resignation.

The question now is: will Zuma comply with the party's decision, or does he have another trick up his sleeve? There are various options available to him.

Politics expert Theo Venter said Zuma has on numerous occasions gone to great lengths to emphasise that he is a "disciplined cadre of the left", one who "will be deployed wherever the party finds fit".

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"But by acting the way he has been in recent weeks, Zuma is actively debunking this myth. He is showing the ANC the middle finger and breaking with tradition. The party does not know what to do, because Zuma is not – and has not been – following the rules," Venter said.

"Zuma could threaten all kinds of things – it is in the nature of a man who is in a corner – but he has little choice but to tender his resignation. If not, parliamentary processes will begin either to have him impeached, or removed through a motion of no confidence."

Venter said it seems Zuma is trying to "set up a final footprint for himself".

"Zuma is defining himself out of the political environment. The smart solution is for him to go willingly, so he retains his benefits and what's left of his image. The [past] two weeks reminded me of coalition talks within a party," he said.

"After this, the ANC will seriously have to rethink its succession design. Having its national conference and electing new leaders 15 months before a national election is not sustainable."

Getty Images
Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa and President Jacob Zuma during a photo opportunity at the cabinet lekgotla in January.

In January, the NEC first tabled the debate on Zuma's removal. Following that, the party's top six went to great lengths asking him to step down – which he has reportedly refused to do. ANC president Cyril Ramaphosa was locked in private negotiations with Zuma for most of last week, and Zuma did not budge.

University of Witwatersrand politics professor Susan Booysen said Zuma's best option would be to "pack his bags and leave".

"There is no recourse that he has politically. But Zuma being Zuma, there is a range of options. He can do it quietly and peacefully, taking the approach of being the loyal party man – but it will not be credible because of his reputation," Booysen said.

"He could be nasty and play the complicity card – accusing the ANC of defending him through motions of no confidence. He has always asked the party and the people to explain what he has done wrong. Then he could retire quietly and spend his days at Nkandla, or he could use his influence over the intelligence structures to release strategic information and plant damaging narratives in the public domain."

If Zuma does not tender his resignation in accordance with the ANC's instruction, he will likely face a motion of no confidence in Parliament.

"Ramaphosa has the confidence of the ANC parliamentary caucus. His camp would have ascertained by now that if a motion against Zuma is brought to Parliament, they would have the strength to remove him," Booysen said.