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Is Zuma’s position in the ANC under threat?

The ANC says the claims about Zuma receiving a bribe from Thales are nothing new.

President Jacob Zuma. Picture: Sapa.

JOHANNESBURG - While the African National Congress (ANC) says the claims about President Jacob Zuma receiving a bribe from French arms company Thales are nothing new, there is now speculation about whether these allegations will weaken his position within the party.

The _Sunday Times _newspaper reported yesterday that testimony during an arbitration hearing involving Ajay Sooklal revealed that President Jacob Zuma was bribed with fancy clothes, legal fees and lavish accommodation by arms company Thales while he was facing corruption charges.

This involved the use of the code word 'Eiffel Tower' for a R500,000 a year bribe to the president for protection during the arms deal probe and to secure further business.

Zuma's former financial adviser Schabir Shaik was convicted in 2005 for arranging the bribe but charges against Zuma were withdrawn in 2009.

Political analyst Ralph Mathekga says this information isn't going to change the political situation around Zuma within the ANC.

"He has actually mastered the internal politics of the ANC. He is quite in charge of the ANC and I don't think this will bring any change to what is happening within the party."

Mathekga says the pressure on Zuma is only coming from outside the party and not from Luthuli House.

He says this means that the president's image could be becoming intertwined with that of the party's.

But political writer Prince Mashele says he doesn't believe the ANC's National Executive Committee will definitely back Zuma in the longer term.

"Politicians are opportunists in my view. When they realise the tide is turning they will certainly turn against Zuma and support the next guy."

He says this is putting Zuma under more pressure.

"Allegations and evidence of corruption further weaken Zuma's position within the ANC."