President Jacob Zuma must vacate his position if the ANC wants South Africans to take the party seriously.

This was the view of the South African Municipal Workers Union’s (Samwu) national executive committee (NEC) on Friday, after its meeting in Polokwane.

"The NEC is convinced that for the ANC to instil confidence that it still is a leader of society‚ President Jacob Zuma should vacate his office immediately as a deployee of the ANC, without attaching any conditions. This would not only allow the ANC to cleanse itself but also avoid a situation of two centres of power.

"We‚ therefore‚ welcome the decision by Parliament to postpone the state of the nation address (Sona) to allow the ANC to deal decisively with the issue of President Zuma, said Samwu. We believe that President Zuma should not be the one delivering the address and that he should [vacate] office before the [address] is presented."

The union also turned on newly elected ANC secretary-general Ace Magashule.

"We are concerned by the divisive tone of the secretary-general of the ANC‚ who seemingly wants President Zuma to continue holding on to power by all means necessary. [He] is not doing any justice to the organisation with his utterances‚ particularly those he made in Pietermaritzburg recently, when he said the ANC will be returned in five years. Where is the ANC now if it has to be returned?"

Zuma has been under constant pressure since deputy president Cyril Ramaphosa became the leader of the ANC. This week‚ ANC treasurer-general Paul Mashatile told delegates at the Mining Indaba in Cape Town that the party’s NEC had planned to oust Zuma after a meeting on Wednesday. The meeting was, however, cancelled.

Zuma’s reluctance to step down has resulted in the state of the nation address being postponed to allow the ANC to deal with its internal problem of removing Zuma. Samwu commended the new leadership of the ANC for the decisions taken since taking over in December.

"We are further hopeful that the new ANC leadership collective will ensure the speedy implementation of National Health Insurance, which is long overdue. We trust that workers who have for long been overlooked and marginalised will be prioritised. We look forward to engagements with the new administration on issues facing our members, particularly on scrapping the privatisation of municipal services through the tendering system and the use of Extended Public Works Programme and Community Works Programmes," the union said.

"These programmes are exploitative in nature and have become a provider of cheap labour for all spheres of government."

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