14/02/2018 06:04 SAST | Updated 14/02/2018 06:05 SAST

The Way Forward For ANC And Jacob Zuma

"This is a delicate issue; they are dealing with someone who doesn't want to leave office."

President Zuma at the 2017 BRICS Summit in China. September 05, 2017.
Wu Hong/ POOL New / Reuters
President Zuma at the 2017 BRICS Summit in China. September 05, 2017.

This is a transcribed interview with Professor Mcebisi Ndletyana, politics professor in the Pan African Institute at the University of Johannesburg.

Q: Why hasn't President Zuma been recalled with a clear deadline to respond?

A: I'm not sure what President Zuma is doing now, but the NEC has said [it is] waiting for a response from him by tomorrow. And if he hasn't resigned by tomorrow midday, then one would have reason to ask: is he defying the NEC, or what is the actual story?

Q: The ANC hasn't been clear and consistent in its communication, in terms of updates or effectively communicating their next steps. As a result, a lot of people are confused right now, and there is a certain level of mistrust when it comes to the governing party. What does this say about the party's communication method – or lack thereof?

A: This is a delicate issue; they are dealing with someone who doesn't want to leave office. And they have to make sure that whichever steps they take now limit any backlash going forward. After all, they are trying to get solutions that will have a lasting effect. There may be an inconvenience for a couple of days, but it's a worthwhile inconvenience, if that leads to a certain future.

People must understand that this is a delicate process – and the only thing you can fault the ANC [on] is perhaps not communicating regularly. But at the same time, one cannot communicate regularly when dealing with a sensitive matter. It's just the nature of people, who are impatient – and this shows the level of resentment people have [towards] Zuma and how eager they are to get rid of him.

Q: How does this back and forth impact SA's economy – particularly because the pPresident hasn't agreed to step down?

A: This would have been better if the president's fate [had been] concluded quickly. There is indication, though, that things are happening and that things are heading in the right direction. This will not undermine confidence – it is clear that Cyril Ramaphosa will come in as president. So things may be slow, but whatever is currently underway points to Zuma leaving office. It should not hamper business confidence on the country's direction and the quality of leadership that is likely to come in.

Q: Does this pose a threat to the ANC in 2019?

A: [That] depends on how this will end, but it cannot influence the number of votes favouring the ANC in 2019. If Zuma doesn't resign, then [there would have to be] a motion of no confidence – and ultimately he will leave. The question would then be what will happen when he is out of office – appearing before the commission and in court over his fraud and racketeering charges that are likely to be revisited.

As a former president accused both in court and in the commission, what is he likely to do? This is the question. Will his testimony implicate a lot more people in the ANC? How the ANC deals with this will be very interesting.

Where we are at now, in terms of ... the uncertainty over whether he will resign or not, will not have an effect, because by the end of this week he will have resigned. If not voluntarily, then by the vote of no confidence.

People will be happy that JZ is gone. They might have issues about how he was pushed out, but overall they will be relieved that he's gone. What the ANC should worry about – which is likely to have an impact on them – is how he conducts himself after he leaves; whether he retaliates as soon as he is kicked out of office. Will he mobilise amongst his ethnic groupings as a victim of a purge? Because he is someone who known to use ethnic mobilisation; that is how he came into office.

Secondly, if he does do the above, to what extent does that message resonate with his ethnic base? And what will be the reaction of the ANC – will they be able to undercut that mobilisation?

So these are the things which may hinder the ANC's performance in 2019 – not Zuma's resignation. People will be relieved as soon as he goes, but what happens after that is what will worry people.