The uncertainty over the fate of Jacob Zuma’s presidency has caused the South African parliament to postpone the State of the Nation Address that was scheduled to be delivered on Thursday.
The parliamentary speaker Baleka Mbete told reporters that a new date will be announced and that the event had been postponed for political reasons.
“We thought that we needed to create room for establishing a much more conducive political atmosphere in parliament,” Baleka Mbete said.
We thought that we needed to create room for establishing a much more conducive political atmosphere in parliament
The State of the Nation address is an annual speech delivered by the president of South Africa.
The ruling party, Africa National Congress (ANC) which had scheduled an executive committee meeting for Wednesday, has since postponed it to February 17.
Calls for Zuma to resign from the office of the presidency have intensified since his deputy Cyril Ramaphosa won the ANC presidency in December last year.
The Nelson Mandela Foundation, which promotes the legacy of South Africa’s anti-apartheid icon, has added its voice to those calling for Zuma to quit.
In a damning statement, it said there was “overwhelming evidence that systematic looting by patronage networks linked to President Zuma have betrayed the country Nelson Mandela dreamed of ‘ and that Zuma had “demonstrated that he is not fit to govern”.
But sections of his supporters are vehemently opposed to the removal of Zuma, which they believe will humiliate the party stalwart.
The ANC’s deputy secretary-general, Jessie Duarte, told reporters that senior party officials had discussed Zuma’s future on Monday.
“It was discussed at a great deal of length. I can say to you that there are different views,” she said.
Zuma has been disgraced by several scandals most notably Nkandlagate where the country’s top court ruled that the president acted unconstitutionally and breached his oath of office when he permitted use of state resources to refurbish his private residence in Nkandla.
The former ANC leader and anti-apartheid hero has already survived several votes of no confidence in parliament where the ruling party has a majority.
Another vote of no confidence motion requested by the opposition Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) has been scheduled for February 22 by the parliament.
Zuma could leave office either by resigning, through losing a vote of no-confidence in parliament or impeachment proceedings.
He could also be “recalled” by the ANC — as happened to his predecessor Thabo Mbeki, in 2008 —but a recall is a party process rather than a constitutional order.