President Jacob Zuma. Picture: THULI DLAMINI
President Jacob Zuma. Picture: THULI DLAMINI

The ANC’s National Executive Committee meeting on Friday night agreed that former party president Jacob Zuma should be removed from office - but his removal should be managed by the newly-elected ANC officials.

Business Day on Friday reported that there was a push to have the ANC’s top six officials "manage" President Jacob Zuma’s early exit from the Union Buildings, instead of the 80-strong national executive committee (NEC) recalling him in caucuses ahead of the meeting. The party is holding a two-day NEC meeting followed by a two-day lekgotla, which is expected to end on Sunday.

Business Day understands the top six managing the matter would allow it to be done "sensitively". Zuma had handed the new leadership a poisoned chalice when he announced free higher education on the eve of the ANC’s national conference.
A view has emerged within the caucus backing Ramaphosa that Zuma should be left to deal with the fallout of this decision. "Let him see the consequences of his actions," said a source close to the talks.

The options for funding higher education would be unpopular and would lead to unhappiness, particularly from within the ANC-led alliance. Zuma’s removal could then follow as the new leadership moved in to repair the damage.

The ANC’s National Executive Committee meeting on Friday night agreed that former party president Jacob Zuma should be removed from office - but his removal should be managed by the newly-elected ANC officials.

In effect, this means that Zuma’s removal would be inevitable. However, the timing is yet to be decided.

Zuma’s position in the national government had been under the spotlight since December, which brought an end to his two five-year terms as leader of the ANC.

Two sources in the NEC meeting told TimesLIVE that there was agreement that Zuma should not be in office when the party starts its campaigning for the 2019 general elections as this may have a negative impact on the party.

According to an insider, the NEC meeting initially heard calls for Zuma to be removed straight after the NEC meeting concluded. However, support later grew for his removal to handled in a managed way by party officials.

Zuma’s removal from office was brought up on the second day of the two-day NEC meeting – currently taking place in Irene, Pretoria - and quickly found support after deputy minister of agriculture, Bheki Cele, firmly argued why it was necessary.

A source said that the discussion about Zuma’s removal from office came after a debate earlier in the day about who should be on the national working committee.

The ANC’s NEC is split among those who once fiercely opposed Zuma and those seen to have once defended him.

One source said that some Zuma sympathisers argued that Zuma should be convinced to leave office amicably and that he exits office gracefully.

With Natasha Marrian

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