'People still want me as president' - Zuma

President Jacob Zuma.
President Jacob Zuma.
Image: Jackie Clausen

A defiant President Jacob Zuma told ANC officials that he remains popular with the public and therefore doesn't understand why they want him to resign.

He also told ANC president Cyril Ramaphosa and his delegation that they did not have the mandate to demand his resignation as the party's national executive committee (NEC) had not made such a decision.

As a result of Zuma's reaction, the officials yesterday convened a special national working committee (NWC) meeting to discuss his future.

Last night the NWC announced that an urgent meeting of the NEC, which has the power to fire Zuma, will now be held tomorrow - on the eve of his State of the Nation Address (Sona).

The NEC meeting will be held in Cape Town.

Zuma's meeting with party officials on Sunday was held at Mahlamba Ndlopfu, his presidential house in Pretoria.

The officials told him he needed to step down because his impeachment or if a motion of no confidence against him were to succeed in parliament, this would embarrass the governing party.

But Zuma argued that he had defeated all the motions brought against him before and said that most ANC MPs would still support him. A source privy to the meeting stated that Zuma also claimed that he had delivered better than previous presidents.

If the ANC NEC meeting fails to recall Zuma or to postpone Sona, opposition parties plan to interdict Thursday night's proceedings.

Opposition parties will today ask National Assembly Speaker Baleka Mbete to postpone the presidential speech until after the EFF's motion of no confidence is debated by the House.

Yesterday, Zuma, who does not sit on the NWC, visited Zulu King Goodwill Zwelithini at the Ondini Royal Palace in Ulundi in northern KwaZulu-Natal. The agenda of the meeting was not made public.

While the NWC was discussing Zuma's future at Luthuli House, there was chaos between pro- and anti-Zuma supporters outside the building.

Members of Black First Land First (BLF) had marched to the ANC's headquarters in defence of Zuma and handed a memorandum to ANC secretary-general Ace Magashule. They demanded that Zuma remain president until his term of office comes to an end.

Magashule was escorted outside to receive the memorandum by heavily armed police and the ANC VIP protection unit.

BLF treasurer-general Thandiswa Yaphi said they will fight any attempts to remove Zuma from office.

"The above organisations note the reactionary conspiracy to remove President Zuma from office. We are [here] to warn the leadership of the African National Congress against instituting a coup against President Zuma," Yaphi told Magashule, who nodded to this demand.

Magashule is seen as a staunch Zuma supporter.