Ramaphosa Rules Out Zuma Immunity

The SONA drinking game (unofficial)

African National Congress leader Cyril Ramaphosa has described talks with South African president Jacob Zuma as "constructive", as the nation holds its breath to see if the beleaguered Mr Zuma will resign.

A photograph from a Cabinet meeting on Wednesday of the two men seated side by side, smiling at the camera, only reinforced the perception that one of Africa's largest economies now has two centers of power.

ANC officials say they want Zuma to resign rather than be forced out by a vote of the ANC's executive committee, or a parliamentary no-confidence vote, either of which could expose divisions in the party.

Mr Zuma has not said whether he will step down voluntarily before his second term as president ends next year.

Zuma is still fighting almost 800 counts of corruption over an arms deal from the late 1990s and his ties with the Gupta brothers, a family of wealthy Indian-born businessmen, are the subject of a judicial inquiry on grand-level corruption.

Another disrupted, chaotic SONA would have extracted a high political price for the governing ANC, which since Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa's election as party president at its December national conference has touted "renewal" and "transition".

The call came after Ramaphosa said on Wednesday he and Zuma need more time to conclude their discussions on the transition of power and matters relating to Zuma's position as the President of the Republic.

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"We thought that we needed to create room for establishing a much more conducive political atmosphere in parliament", Mbete added, saying a new date would be announced shortly. This was in the context of threatened disruptions by opposition parties should it be addressed by Zuma.

This week saw the postponement of the state of the nation address which was scheduled to take place on Thursday.

The 75-year-old president is facing extensive corruption charges after a turbulent nine years in power. "This suggested they believe that SA is on the right path", he said.

Zuma also met top ANC leaders on Sunday.

Despite the attacks on him, Mr Zuma still enjoys some backing within the party, particularly among rural members and within his own Zulu community.

Zuma's presidency has been overshadowed by allegations of corruption. A commission of inquiry is also due to probe allegations he allowed his friends, the Gupta family, to influence government appointments and the awarding of state contracts.

As discussions continue, Ramaphosa says he will be able to report back to the organisation and the country in the "coming days".

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