South African ruling party leaders to meet amid Zuma limbo
By CHRISTOPHER TORCHIA, Associated Press
JOHANNESBURG (AP) — A key committee of South Africa’s ruling ANC party will hold an emergency meeting Monday as the nation awaits word on whether President Jacob Zuma will resign soon because of corruption allegations, South African media reported.
The announcement of a meeting of the national executive committee of the African National Congress came ahead of an expected speech on Sunday by Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa, who says he has been negotiating a power transition with Zuma.
Many former supporters of the president want him to resign because of his links to scandals that have sapped support for the ruling party and hurt one of Africa’s biggest economies, but there is a growing sense of unease over the lack of information about the confidential talks between Zuma and Ramaphosa, his expected successor.
While some ANC leaders are appealing to South Africans to wait patiently for a resolution, the political opposition speculates that Zuma is trying to secure concessions, including protection from prosecution in exchange for his resignation.
“This mediation cannot continue,” said Refiloe Nt’sekhe, spokeswoman for the Democratic Alliance, the biggest opposition party. “Jacob Zuma must face the full consequences of his actions whatever they may be, and there can be no deal or leniency for him or his family.”
Zuma denies wrongdoing, but he has been discredited by a host of scandals, including multi-million-dollar upgrades to his private home that were paid by the state, alleged looting of state enterprises by his associates and the possible reinstatement of corruption charges tied to an arms deal two decades ago.
Last week, Ramaphosa canceled a meeting of the ANC’s national executive committee, which had been expected to push for the early removal of the president so the party can try to win back disaffected voters ahead of elections in 2019. Such a meeting could have exacerbated divisions with the party that has led South Africa since the end of apartheid in 1994, and Ramaphosa said his private discussions with Zuma were aimed at minimizing discord.
ANC spokesman Pule Mabe confirmed that a committee meeting was scheduled for Monday, but he did not comment on the agenda, the eNCA media organization reported.
Ramaphosa was expected to speak in Cape Town on Sunday, the 28th anniversary of Nelson Mandela’s release from prison. Jailed for 27 years, the anti-apartheid leader addressed an ecstatic crowd from the balcony of Cape Town’s City Hall on Feb. 11, 1990 and was elected as South Africa’s first black president four years later. He died in 2013 at the age of 95.
Ramaphosa, an anti-apartheid activist who held the microphone for Mandela during the City Hall speech, was a key negotiator during the transition to democracy in the early 1990s.
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