ANC mulls Zuma's fate as pressure grows

South Africa Postpones Key Speech as Standoff With Zuma Continues

South Africa's opposition parties and factions in the ANC say Zuma should not be allowed to give the annual state of the nation address on Thursday, calling him a lame duck president since the election of reformer Cyril Ramaphosa as ANC leader.

But developments show that Zuma's days as the head of the country's government are numbered with National Assembly speaker Baleka Mbete on Tuesday announcing the postponement of the State of the Nation Address (Sona) after an urgent meeting with the ANC leadership.

Many ruling party members want Ramaphosa, who replaced Zuma as party president in December and has talked tough on corruption, to become state president soon so that the party can try to recover lost popularity ahead of 2019 elections.

Zuma has not said whether he will resign voluntarily before his second term as president ends mid next year.

Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa has assured South Africans that the anxiety around President Jacob Zuma's position will be resolved while Mbete says she's hoping for certainty, in general, in the next few hours.

Parliament - The much anticipated meeting of the African National Congress' national executive committee to decide the fate of embattled President Jacob Zuma has now been postponed to next week.

Separately, Zuma's lawyers have submitted arguments to prosecutors about why he shouldn't be prosecuted for corruption charges tied to an arms deal two decades ago. "We will be able to communicate further on President Zuma's position as President of the Republic once we have finalised all pertinent matters", he said. Per ANC rules, all members - even elected officials - fulfill their functions according to the will of the party.

Ramaphosa said in a statement on Wednesday that he anticipated a "speedy resolution" to his talks with the president about a power transition. "The people of South Africa do not want a criminal to deliver the SONA and the only way to remove him is through a motion of no confidence", the commander-in-chief of the EFF Julius Malema said at a press conference at the party headquarters in Braamfontein on Monday.

Mr Zuma's presidency has been overshadowed by allegations of corruption.

In a damning statement, it said there was "overwhelming evidence that systematic looting by patronage networks linked to President Zuma have betrayed the country Nelson Mandela dreamed of".

The ANC party are due to hold an emergency meeting on Wednesday in a move that could see Mr Zuma removed from office.

The ANC's top six leaders asked Zuma to resign this weekend.

Previous State of Nation addresses by Zuma have seen an outpouring of anger by his critics.

On 22 February, Zuma, if he is still president, faces a no-confidence motion in parliament.

"If he doesn't resign following a recall then it will be a very chaotic situation", Ben Payton, analyst for the London-based Maplecroft consultancy, told AFP.

Ramaphosa's supporters outweigh those of Zuma.

Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi said the ruling party will settle its disputes behind closed doors.

The main opposition Democratic Alliance party has called for the event to be postponed.

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