Zuma's night of long knives

ANC Gauteng member Hangwi Maumela and Gabriel Nkgweng discuss forcing President Jacob Zuma to step down. /KABELO MOKOENA
ANC Gauteng member Hangwi Maumela and Gabriel Nkgweng discuss forcing President Jacob Zuma to step down. /KABELO MOKOENA

ANC president Cyril Ramaphosa and his new team officially asked President Jacob Zuma last night to step down.

The first ever meeting between Zuma and the recently elected ANC national officials took place at Mahlamba Ndlopfu, his official residence in Pretoria.

The meeting, which lasted for about an hour, ended just after 10pm. The outcome of the gathering, however, remained unknown last night.

Accompanying Ramaphosa were ANC deputy president David Mabuza, treasurer-general Paul Mashatile, chairman Gwede Mantashe, secretary-general Ace Magashule and deputy secretary-general Jessie Duarte.

Speaking to congregants at the St John's Apostolic Faith Mission church in Katlehong in Ekurhuleni yesterday, Mantashe confirmed that the officials would meet Zuma.

"We want to ensure that there is stability in the country, there is stability in the ANC. That is why tonight we are meeting President Jacob Zuma. We are not going to that meeting to humiliate president Zuma. We are going to have a discussion with him on what is in the best interest of the ANC, country and economy."

He asked the church to pray for a peaceful meeting.

"We must be able to look into the various options and the consequences of each options."

He said since Ramaphosa was elected ANC president, the rand had strengthened.

"There is a growing business confidence and people are beginning to have trust in the ANC. Our job is not to disappoint our people." There have been claims that the ANC is losing support because of scandals surrounding Zuma.

Last night's meeting came after officials were given a clear mandate by the party's national executive committee and the national working committee to tell Zuma to step down.

His legal problems and the two centres of power conundrum are some of the reasons the ANC wants him to go.

SACP general secretary Blade Nzimande yesterday said the task of dislodging state capture and other forms of corruption would not be successful unless Zuma resigned or was removed from office.

"He is at the centre of the reproduction of these networks that drop his name left, centre and right," he said.

"As the SACP we have decided not to make a noise about this but instead allow the newly elected ANC leadership to do its work."

The SACP and Cosatu have repeatedly called on Zuma to step down. Last week various organisations, including the Black First, Land First movement, said they would march to Luthuli House, the ANC headquarters, today, under the banner: "Hands off Zuma".

Yesterday a little-known group of ANC members countered their plan, saying they would have their own "Zuma Must Go" march to Luthuli House today.

"We can't be threatened by a group of gangs," said Hangwi Maumela, the convenor of the march and ANC Gauteng member.

"We felt that we need to give a very strong message to this gang to say there is no one who is going to be beaten or victimised. We never saw those people in the 54th conference of the ANC.

"What we are saying is that Zuma must go. If he is not going to go we will then go and take him out. If the top six is not removing him we will remove him ourselves."