South Africa's ruling party has announced deadlines and timelines in its bid to oust of Jacob Zuma, the country's head of state.
A letter of recall was hand delivered to Zuma by African National Congress (ANC) top officials on Tuesday. By Wednesday, when it became clear Zuma would dig in his heels and a resignation letter would not be forthcoming, the party gave the parliamentary caucus the go-ahead to vote him out of office.
"I have now reported to the caucus that the NEC [national executive committee of ANC] has decided to recall President Zuma and the deadline [for Zuma to resign] is today," ANC treasurer-general Paul Mashatile told a media briefing after handing the party's instructions to caucus.
"We have now asked the chief whip to proceed with the motion of no confidence tomorrow...so that President Zuma is then removed so that we can then proceed to elect President [Cyril] Ramaphosa..."
The motion of no confidence was brought by the ANC's political opponents, the Economic Freedom Fighters, and is scheduled for February 22.
While the ANC cannot bring its own motion, which party chief whip Jackson Mthembu said would have been "ideal", parliamentary rules allow a party to bring an amendment to a motion. Essentially, what this means, said Mthembu, is that the ANC was not against the "substance of the motion", but would provide different reasons to Parliament on why Zuma should be removed from office through a no confidence motion. The content of the amended motion was still being worked on.
"We are bringing in the ANC reasons why the president must be removed. It looks like we are all in agreement that the president must go...including the ANC," said Mthembu.
If Zuma resigns before the scheduled sitting of the National Assembly at 2pm on Thursday, the ANC will move quickly to replace him with his deputy Cyril Ramaphosa through a vote in the House. If this does not happen, the amended motion of no confidence proceeds. If this is successful, Zuma's cabinet has to resign and Speaker Baleka Mbete becomes acting President. According to the South African Constitution, a new president has to be elected within 30 days.
However, if the ANC has its way Mbete's presidency will be short lived. They want the election of a new president, depending on the availability of the chief justice or someone he designates, immediately after the motion is debated.
If all goes according to plan, the ANC wants these timelines adhered to:
- Thursday, February 15: Motion of no confidence;
- Friday, February 16: Election of new South African President in morning and State of the Nation Address by new President in the evening;
- Monday, February 19: National Assembly Debate on State of the Nation Address
- Tuesday, February 20: Reply to State of the Nation Debate by Cyril Ramaphosa; and
- Wednesday, February 21: The Budget is tabled in Parliament.
Mthembu said although tight, the timelines were doable.
"We have our ducks in a row," said Mthembu.
Mashatile indicated enough time had been wasted and South Africans deserved an answer to the prevailing uncertainty.
"We don't have time to be bickering about who should be president. We have elected President Ramaphosa [as ANC president] and he should be President of the country..."