JOHANNESBURG – South African President Jacob Zuma will meet the top six officials of the ruling party over his future this weekend, the state broadcaster said on Thursday, adding to speculation Zuma could be removed as head of state.
Scandal-plagued Zuma has faced calls from within the African National Congress (ANC) to step down since deputy president Cyril Ramaphosa succeeded him as leader of the party in December. Ramaphosa would then be his natural successor.
“The meeting is expected to centre around Zuma’s future as head of state,” the South African Broadcasting Corporation posted on its official news feed.
The ANC has previously said it has discussed Zuma resigning before the end of his term in mid-2019, although his staunch supporters within the party say that will not happen.
Zuma, 75, is currently battling a string of corruption allegations and Ramaphosa has in recent weeks pledged to make tackling graft one of his top priorities.
The National Prosecuting Agency (NPA), the state prosecutor, said on Thursday that Zuma had provided arguments on why he should not be prosecuted for corruption.
Zuma, who has faced and denied numerous corruption allegations since taking office, submitted documents on Wednesday night to the NPA providing reasons why 783 counts of corruption relating to a 30 billion rand ($2 billion) arms deal arranged in the late 1990s should not be reinstated.
NPA Head Shaun Abrahams “personally received the representations from the legal representatives of Mr Zuma late yesterday evening” and would announce the next course of action later, the NPA’s spokesman Luvuyo Mfaku said.
Zuma’s ties to the Gupta family — whose members include a trio of businessmen accused of using their ties to Zuma to amass wealth and influence government policy — has drawn criticism from former allies as well as opponents. The Guptas and Zuma deny any wrongdoing.
Zuma has seen a reversal of fortune since Ramaphosa succeeded him as ANC leader. Zuma still retains the support of a faction within the ANC, but no longer holds a top post.
The opposition has called for Zuma to be removed from office before delivering the State of the Nation Address on Feb 8.
South Africa’s parliament said Zuma will deliver the speech as planned.
“There are processes going on, every day and every night, and at this point the information we have is that the head of state is President Jacob Zuma,” Baleka Mbete, the speaker of parliament, told reporters.