Zuma's change of attitude bought him some reprieve

ANC president Cyril Ramaphosa yesterday explained to party MPs that he gave President Jacob Zuma a reprieve after a change of tone in his attitude.

Ramaphosa also assured the MPs that he was not negotiating any deal to protect Zuma from prosecution over corruption.

This is according to ANC MPs who attended the party caucus meeting yesterday in parliament where Ramaphosa briefed them on his ongoing transition talks with Zuma.

ANC MPs who spoke on condition of anonymity because they are not
allowed to speak to the media on caucus issues, said Ramaphosa explained that he decided to postpone the special NEC meeting that was scheduled for Wednesday night to seal Zuma's fate following a "change of tone" from a
defiant Zuma.

Zuma had told the ANC's top six officials on Sunday that he was not ready to resign when they asked him to do so.

"The president [Ramaphosa] said that he had to postpone the NEC because he received a change in tone from JZ between Sunday and Tuesday when they met," said an MP.

Sources said Ramaphosa also told MPs that any discussion of immunity for Zuma would undermine the authority of the government in running its own affairs and could also be seen as political interference in state affairs.

"Cyril said to us that he was not into any deal-making because any deal-brokering would amount to political interference in the affairs of the state or the running of
government departments.

"He said he had no legal jurisdiction to do so," said one MP.

"He said to us that discussions on the transition were about ensuring the unity of the ANC and there was no deal-making."

Reacting to media reports, the DA said it would not "hesitate to approach the courts to stop Ramaphosa" from granting Zuma immunity from prosecution.

The National Prosecuting Authority is in the coming weeks expected to decide whether or not to reinstate 783 charges of corruption, racketeering and money laundering against Zuma after he filed fresh representations against the charges last week.

The MPs also said Ramaphosa told them in his one-and-a-half-hour long address to his first meeting with the party's caucus since his election in December, that it was "just a matter of days" before his transition talks with Zuma are concluded.

There is also a clear indication that Zuma might step down as all the pre-Sona events that he normally addresses have been postponed, including the Ubuntu Awards.

Another MP said Ramaphosa assured them that
Zuma would soon be exiting the highest office in the land but did not give a specific date. "Yes, I can confirm that Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa told us that it is a matter of days before President Jacob Zuma goes.

"There was nothing specific about when this will take place. That is the only part I heard because I left early."

From being asked to resign and clashes outside Luthuli House to postponement after postponement, it has been a turbulent week for President Jacob Zuma.