ANC top officials to skip Mandela fete as Zuma exit looms

South African President Jacob Zuma.
South African President Jacob Zuma could soon be forced to leave office. PHOTO | AFP 

South African ruling African National Congress’ top leaders have pulled out of a series of events in Cape Town to mark the 100th anniversary of liberation hero Nelson Mandela's birth in order to attend to “pressing matters”.

The party said its top six officials would skip the celebrations that began Friday amid growing speculations on talks to force President Jacob Zuma to quit office.

“The national officials of the African National Congress (ANC) will no longer participate in the build-up programmes towards the #Mandela100 Rally planned for Sunday, 11th February 2018. This is because of various other commitments they are required to attend to,” said party in a statement.

ANC president Cyril Ramaphosa is however expected to deliver the keynote address at the rally on Sunday, the party added.

Political analyst Ralph Mathekga said the move to withdrawal from participating in the national events pointed to a joint effort by the party’s top brass to join in the negotiations between President Zuma and his deputy Mr Ramaphosa on the exit strategy.

“The top six are the ones who are supposed to steer the negotiations and inform other structures of the ANC,” Mr Mathekga said, adding that “having their calendars or engagements cancelled, shows that they are probably attending,” he said.

Mr Ramaphosa has been holding talks with Mr Zuma over the latter’s future following calls from within the party and the public for him to resign.

President Zuma has been South Africa’s most controversial post-apartheid leader. His second term in office has been marked by economic decline and countless allegations of corruption.

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