Opposing groups to square off at Luthuli House over Zuma’s future

Those who want the president to go have threatened to shut down the country if he does not heed the party leadership's calls.

FILE: The ANC's Chief Albert Luthuli House headquarters in Johannesburg's CBD in a show of solidarity with President Jacob Zuma on 7 April 2017. Picture: EWN

JOHANNESBURG - The African National Congress (ANC)’s national working committee has been called to an urgent meeting at the party's headquarters to discuss President Jacob Zuma's future while large groups are expected to descend on Luthuli House.

The ANC’s Military Veterans Association (MKMVA) has vowed to defend the party’s headquarters ahead of Monday’s two marches to Luthuli House that will see supporters and critics of Zuma come face to face.

MKMVA president Kebby Maphatsoe says that military veterans are ready to defend the party.

“Our comrades are ready for any eventuality. If those people do come, we will be ready to defend Luthuli House.”

The MKMVA say they will defend Luthuli House from the two groups expected to march this morning.

“We are not promoting any violence, however, should the provocation become beyond our control, then it will be met with the necessary response.”

Those who want the president to go have threatened to shut down the country if he does not heed the party leadership's calls.

But Zuma's supporters say that he is not going anywhere and should not bow down to pressure.

The ANC's top officials met with Zuma on Sunday night to formally communicate the committee’s decision about his departure.

It is understood that he has refused to budge.

The UDM's Bantu Holomisa says that Zuma is prepared to fight back, irrespective of the consequences.

"He told the top six yesterday, 'that if you think you have the powers to remove me, you can go ahead and remove me', so in a way, he has shown the top six the middle finger, even if it means he has to go down with the entire ANC."

NO COMMUNICATION FROM ANC ABOUT ZUMA’S FUTURE YET

There is no official communication yet from the ANC but it looks like party leaders did not reach a consensus on removing Zuma from office.

The top six leaders went into that meeting divided.

The party’s treasurer-general Paul Mashatile said on Friday that the president must step down to avoid creating two centres of power in the country.

ANC secretary-general Ace Magashule on Saturday confirmed that Zuma will deliver the State of the Nation Address (Sona).

“This is the president of the ANC and the president of the country and we will interact with him and that’s what we have decided. President Zuma will deliver the State of the Nation Address.”

Meanwhile, ANC chairperson Gwede Mantashe visited the Apostolic Church in Katlehong yesterday and he told congregants that the meeting with the president was meant to ensure stability in the party.

SHOWDOWN AT LUTHULI HOUSE EXPECTED

A showdown is expected at Luthuli House this morning as supporters of the president are set to march in support of him, while another group claiming to be from the ANC is also expected to be at the party’s headquarters to “defend the ANC”.

Opposition parties are adamant that Zuma should not deliver the Sona, they have written to the Speaker of Parliament requesting Sona be postponed until impeachment proceedings are finalised.

They have warned of court action to interdict the address if they don’t get a positive response by the end of today.

They are not the only ones though, as several civil society organisations under the banner of Future SA have written a letter to ANC president Cyril Ramaphosa, calling on the party to put the country first by ensuring that Zuma doesn’t deliver this week’s address.

Future SA spokesperson Cas Coovadia said: “Sona under President Zuma has become a farce in may ways, in that opposition parties walk out because of his own lack of standing.”

(Edited by Refilwe Pitjeng)