Top South African ruling party officials are planning to press ahead with negotiations over the weekend to bring an end to Jacob Zuma’s presidency.
The African National Congress is trying to wrap up a deal for Zuma to resign so that Cyril Ramaphosa, who became the party leader in December, can restore investor confidence and public support for the ANC as it gears up for elections next year. Ramaphosa, a 65-year-old lawyer and one of the richest black South Africans, has pledged to revive the flagging economy and clamp down on the corruption that has become synonymous with the Zuma era.
Speculation that Zuma’s departure is imminent was fueled when Parliament postponed the annual state-of-the-nation address on Tuesday, two days before Zuma was to deliver it. Ramaphosa has said talks about a transition of power should conclude in a matter of days.
“Zuma is increasingly isolated but the ANC’s apparent reluctance to resort to parliamentary procedures to get rid of him and rather negotiate his exit appears to be playing into his hands,” said Mike Davies, the founder of political-advisory company Kigoda Consulting. “This has delayed a transition of power, but he has got limited time left.”
The rand gained as much as 0.9 percent on speculation that Zuma is set to quit, and was 0.8 percent stronger at 12.0662 per dollar by 5:35 p.m. in Johannesburg on Friday. The currency has been the world’s top performer since Ramaphosa was elected leader of the ANC.
The ANC’s top six officials are due to meet with Zuma this weekend, Johannesburg-based broadcaster eNCA reported Friday. ANC spokesman Pule Mabe he didn’t know whether they would be meeting.
Zuma is planning to tell his family this weekend that he’s resigning and will announce his decision early next week, the New Age newspaper reported, citing people it didn’t identify. Bongani Ngqulunga, Zuma’s spokesman, said he was in a meeting and couldn’t immediately comment.
Zuma’s nine-year tenure has been marred by a succession of scandals, which have slashed support for the ANC and cost it control of Johannesburg, the economic hub, and several other cities in a 2016 municipal vote. Pressure has been mounting on him to quit since Ramaphosa took over the ANC leadership.
“The reason why there is no resolution at the moment is because the ANC is deeply divided,” Ben Turok, a former ANC lawmaker, said by phone from Cape Town. “One cannot negotiate in good faith with Zuma. There are so many people who depend on Zuma to stay in their jobs that they are putting self interest ahead of the party’s.”
— With assistance by Sam Mkokeli