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ANC to start process of deciding Zuma's fate

The party said any decision on whether the party will sanction Zuma will depend on a lengthy process.

FILE: President Jacob Zuma. Picture: Reinart Toerien/EWN.

JOHANNESBURG - The African National Congress (ANC) says an extended national working committee (NWC) meeting on Monday will mark the beginning of a process which will decide the fate of President Jacob Zuma.

The governing party has moved to defend its president, saying it appreciates his apology for violating the Constitution in the Nkandla saga.

But it says the Constitutional Court judgment against Zuma is a serious matter and how to deal with it will be decided after thorough consultation with all its structures.

ANC secretary general Gwede Mantashe said any decision on whether Zuma will be sanctioned by the party will depend on a lengthy process which begins on Monday.

"There's an NWC meeting opened to all NEC members. We'll be talking to the political committees of the ANC in Parliament and caucus on Tuesday and after that we'll be beginning a process of engaging provinces and regions of the ANC and we'll meet our alliance partners."

He said the party's appreciation of Zuma's apology is not a final word.

"So what we're telling you today is not the final word, is what we're going to take to that NWC. If the NWC is the right route to take, we'll continue with it and then proceed to the provinces and the regions."

Monday's extended NWC will also be attended by the members of the NEC known to be loyal supporters of the president.

KATHRADA'S LETTER TO ZUMA

Former political prisoner and anti-apartheid activist Ahmed Kathrada has penned a letter asking Zuma to step down following the Constitutional Court ruling over the Nkandla scandal.

Kathrada has written what he calls an agonising letter to Zuma, saying he was left with no choice but to break tradition and speak out, even after remaining silent when public money was spent on the president's home.

Kathrada says at first he didn't speak out about Nkandla although he thought it wrong to have spent public money for any president's private comfort.

The 86-year-old says while he has maintained a position not to attack or speak out in public about internal ANC matters or any leader, he finds it appropriate to express his discontent about the president's ability to lead the people of South Africa.

"I have always maintained a position of not speaking out publicly about any differences I may harbour against my leaders and my organisation, the African National Congress (ANC).

"I would only have done so when I thought that some important organisational matters compel me to raise my concerns."

Kathrada has warned Zuma that his outstanding contribution to the liberation struggle will be severely tarnished if the remainder of his presidency continues to be plagued by a growing public loss of confidence in the ANC and government as a whole.

ZUMA DENIES DISHONESTY

Zuma on Friday denied acting dishonestly in a scandal over improper state spending at his private home after a scathing court ruling prompted calls for him to resign.

The scandal is arguably the biggest yet to hit Zuma, who has fended off accusations of corruption, influence peddling and even rape since before he took office in 2009. It comes ahead of local elections that could see the ANC lose support.

South Africa's top court on Thursday held that Zuma had failed to uphold the Constitution by ignoring instructions to pay back some of the R246 million in state funds spent on renovations at his sprawling residence at Nkandla.

In a televised address to the nation on Friday evening, an apparently contrite Zuma apologised and said he would pay back some of the money, as ordered.

A report in 2014 identified a swimming pool, cattle enclosure, chicken run, amphitheatre and visitor centre as upgrades to the compound that were not related to security and that Zuma must pay for.

"I wish to emphasise that I never knowingly or deliberately set out to violate the Constitution," Zuma said.

"Any action that has been found not to be in keeping with the constitution happened because of a different approach and different legal advice," he said, before issuing an apology for the "frustration and confusion" caused by the scandal.

UP TO THE ANC TO DECIDE

At the same time political analysts have turned the spotlight on the ANC, saying it's now up to the party to decide on how it will further deal with the matter.

Political analyst Somadoda Fikeni says Zuma's apology is likely to still be highly contested.

"The same narrative will go to Parliament as it is likely to be much contested in a way."

Constitutional law expert Richard Calland says all eyes are now on the ANC to see what it will do next.

"Unfortunately, he has too many schemes in the game so to speak to abandon ship at this point, he will have to be pushed by the party."

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