South Africa's Ramaphosa says in direct discussions with Zuma over transition

ANC bosses clear diaries as Zuma exit looms

South Africans were facing political uncertainty yesterday after the ruling ANC party cancelled a meeting that could have removed embattled President Jacob Zuma from office.

Mr Ramaphosa's feedback followed the postponement of the Wednesday National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting, whose agenda was to discuss President Zuma's future.

He has faced increasing pressure to quit since December, when Ramaphosa replaced him as leader of the ruling African National Congress (ANC). Two senior party officials who spoke on condition of anonymity said the party's top decision-making body would decide at its meeting in Cape Town whether to force Zuma from office.

But the NEC meeting (scheduled for Wednesday), which Mashatile assured investors was being held to recall Zuma was called off at the last minute on Tuesday.

According to Ramaphosa, his discussions with Zuma "were constructive and lay the basis for a speedy resolution of the matter in the interests of the country and its people". The ANC is Africa's most prominent liberation movement and many veterans of the long struggle against apartheid worry that the corruption allegations against Zuma are undermining its legacy.

Once seen as untouchable because of his strong grip on the ANC, Mr Zuma's power in the movement has diminished significantly in the two months since Mr Ramaphosa became its new leader.

"This is the beginning of the end for Zuma", said Theo Venter, a political analyst at North-West University's business school in Potchefstroom, west of Johannesburg.

Magashule was briefing the media in Parliament on Thursday after ANC President Cyril Ramaphosa briefed the caucus.

The opposition parties had demanded that the speech be postponed until Zuma was removed from the leadership.

South Africa President Jacob Zuma (right) and his deputy Cyril Ramaphosa.

His presidency has been dominated by an economic slowdown, record unemployment and allegations of corruption.

He argued that the matter needed to be resolved so that Ramaphosa could be elected by the National Assembly and deliver the State of the Nation address ahead of the tabling of the 2018 national Budget, which is set for February 21. Many former supporters who have turned against Zuma have anxious that he is digging in or at least trying to make a deal, possibly including immunity from prosecution, in exchange for his resignation.

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