EAST LONDON, South Africa (Reuters) – The removal of South African President Jacob Zuma as head of state will not be discussed at an African National Congress meeting on Wednesday, the party’s secretary-general said.
There was widespread local media speculation this week that Zuma’s opponents in the ANC’s newly elected 80-member national executive committee would raise a motion of no-confidence at its first meeting under new party leader Cyril Ramaphosa.
ANC Secretary-General Ace Magashule told reporters at a break in the meeting that the only item on the agenda was the statement to be read by Ramaphosa on Jan. 8 to mark the 106th birthday of the ANC.
The rand briefly extended losses against the U.S. dollar. Zuma has been unpopular with investors.
“That matter was not for any discussion or debate,” Magashule told reporters in response to a question about whether Zuma’s future was raised.
“There was only one item on the agenda.”
Zuma has been weakened since Ramaphosa narrowly defeated Zuma’s ex-wife Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma in an ANC leadership contest last month.
The ANC’s NEC, which was elected at the party conference in December, is meeting in the quiet coastal town of East London.
Two senior committee members told Reuters Ramaphosa’s faction in the ANC did not want to try to openly oust Zuma since the NEC was only elected a month ago and because Ramaphosa’s victory was marginal.
There could be a less high-profile meeting of the NEC next week where a more serious discussion about Zuma leaving would be held, one of the senior party members said.
“Ramaphosa has to chart a very careful course so he can win broad ANC support and negotiate a dignified exit for Zuma,” independent political analyst Daniel Silke said.