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SA at political crossroads as nation awaits Zuma recall response

The governing party expects Zuma to respond today to an effective ultimatum to leave office but there's been no indication from the Presidency that he is preparing to do so.

FILE: Jacob Zuma ahead of the announcement of the ANC's new top 6 on 18 December 2017. Picture: Thomas Holder/EWN

JOHANNESBURG – With South Africa at a political crossroads and more government business being postponed, it's not clear if President Jacob Zuma will respond on Wednesday to the African National Congress (ANC)'s decision to recall him.

A scheduled Cabinet briefing has been called off, press briefings and committee meetings have been cancelled and there's still no word on when or if the State of the Nation Address (Sona) will take place.

The ANC insists that it wants its new leader Cyril Ramaphosa to deliver that address, as president of the republic.

The governing party expects Zuma to respond today to an effective ultimatum to leave office but there's been no indication from the Presidency that he is preparing to do so.

Cabinet has assured the country that service delivery will not be affected by the developments following the mixed messages that came out of that press conference by the ANC’s secretary-general Ace Magashule.

The clear line from the ANC was that the national executive committee had decided to recall Zuma.

But Magashule, during the media briefing at Luthuli House, said that it would be expected that Zuma would respond today. However, he also said they didn't give him an ultimatum but merely time and space.

But the party's national chairperson Gwede Mantashe alluded to an ultimatum and a possible motion of no confidence vote if the president does not step down.

“We never wanted the president of the ANC to be subjected to a vote of no confidence, impeachment and all those things. We hoped that the president will see reason and step down himself.”

Mantashe was addressing ANC members in Butterworth in the Eastern Cape on Tuesday as part of the Nelson Mandela centenary celebrations

As we have seen in recent days, this was one of many unconfirmed reports.

We did reach out to the Presidency and they said as far as they knew there would be no briefing.

At the same time, while answering questions about the president's future in an interview late last night with CNN, Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba said this: “Particularly because they’re going to bring about the much required political certainty and policy certainty that we need in order to get South African economy growing beyond the levels that keeps growing at the present moment.”

Gigaba was, of course, talking about the urgent ANC caucus meeting in Parliament's today which has also thrown the planned schedule of the National Assembly into disarray.

A host of portfolio committee meetings scheduled for this morning have been moved to the afternoon to accommodate the special meeting.

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