JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) – South Africa’s ruling African National Congress (ANC) will hold an urgent meeting on Monday to discuss President Jacob Zuma’s future as head of state after overnight talks with the scandal-plagued 75-year-old failed to secure his departure.
Zuma, in power since 2009, has faced growing pressure to resign since he was replaced as leader of the ANC in December by Cyril Ramaphosa, the deputy president.
The ANC has summoned its National Working Committee (NWC) to meet at 1200 GMT at the party’s Luthuli House headquarters in downtown Johannesburg.
In order for the party to force Zuma to resign as state president, the NWC would have to call a meeting of the National Executive Committee, its top decision-making body, to vote on Zuma’s exit.
The ANC’s top six most powerful officials met Zuma late on Sunday at his official residence in Pretoria but there was no announcement of the outcome.
In a sign of Zuma digging in, a group of supporters called Black First Land First said they would march to Luthuli House on Monday. In response, a pro-Ramaphosa faction of the ANC said it would “defend” the building, raising the prospect of clashes between different camps of the ANC.
Zuma has been deserted by prominent allies since Ramaphosa became leader of the only party to govern South Africa since the end of white minority rule in 1994.
Ramaphosa, 65, is in a strong position to become the next president and has been lobbying for Zuma’s removal.
Zuma has not said whether he will step down voluntarily before his second term as president ends next year. Opposition parties and some in the ANC want him to go before his State of the Nation address to parliament, scheduled for Thursday.
(Reporting by Alexander Winning; Editing by Ed Cropley)