JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) – South Africans should be patient with the ruling African National Congress (ANC) leader Cyril Ramaphosa as he holds talks with President Jacob Zuma for a transition of power, the party’s national chairperson said on Saturday.
Ramaphosa has been lobbying for Zuma to resign and has said he hopes to conclude talks with him “in coming days … in the interests of the country.”
Addressing an ANC rally in the eastern province of Mpumalanga, Gwede Mantashe said ANC officials should be fearless and must be able to make difficult decisions, but leaders had a duty to “analyze and mitigate risks”.
“There is no disagreement about where we want to go (on Zuma) but the tactics on how to do that is the responsibility of leadership,” Mantashe told the rally.
Speaking to state broadcaster SABC television after his speech, Mantashe said people should give the ANC space to manage a “very complex situation”.
“Allow (Ramaphosa) to lead, Leadership is a science, a profession and also an art. Allow Cyril Ramaphosa to execute and use his art and his personality to manage this,” Mantashe said.
Ramaphosa, who negotiated on behalf of the ANC in talks to end apartheid, has ignored frustration from some sections of the media and opposition parties who have been howling for Zuma to go for years.
Zuma, South Africa’s most controversial president since the end of white-minority rule in 1994, has overseen a tumultuous nine years in power marked by economic decline and numerous allegations of corruption.
Zuma has not said whether he will resign voluntarily before his second term as president ends in the middle of next year. He still retains the support of a faction within the ANC but has seen several prominent party allies desert him.
Mantashe said ANC officials would meet later on Saturday to discuss the transition, but Zuma will not be part of the meeting.
Ramaphosa is due to give a speech on Sunday as part of year-long celebrations to mark 100 years since the birth of former President Nelson Mandela.
(Reporting by Olivia Kumwenda-Mtambo; Editing by Richard Balmforth)