President Jacob Zuma told members of the ANC’s national executive committee at the weekend that if they wanted him to step down they should tell him, the Mail & Guardian reported on Tuesday.
“He told us we should tell him directly if we wanted him to step down, rather than to stab him in the back,” an NEC member reportedly told the publication.
According to two more NEC members, Zuma had allegedly told those at the meeting that he was aware that there were members in the party’s top structure who wanted him out.
Despite this, the NEC had decided not to recall Zuma and presented a united front to the media and the rest of South Africa.
The main reason for this decision was because recalling Zuma would have had a negative impact on the party ahead of its upcoming local government elections, the member told the publication.
“Imagine what that could have done to the image of the ANC? It would have been irresponsible of us if we did that,” the NEC member reportedly said.
Reports have emerged via The Mail & Guardian, News24 and Sowetan newspapers reporting that Zuma had offered to stand down at a meeting of the ANC’s national executive committee this weekend, citing party sources who attended the summit.
The ruling African National Congress (ANC) have denied the reports that President Jacob Zuma had offered to resign after mounting claims of improper political interference by the leader’s wealthy business friends.
“This is not true. It didn’t happen,” ANC spokesman Zizi Zodwa has said.
The ANC said in a statement on Sunday it had full confidence in Zuma and would investigate allegations by politicians that they were offered positions by the Guptas.
In an affair that has caused wild swings in the rand since erupting last week, Zuma is facing calls to quit since a number senior officials went public with allegations that the Gupta business clan exert an undue sway on the government.
The Guptas, whose businesses stretch from media to mining, have denied offering government jobs and say they are pawns in a plot to oust Zuma.
Zuma has acknowledged the Guptas are his friends but denies that the relationship is in anyway improper.
Zuma’s son, Duduzane, is a director – along with Gupta family members – of at least six companies, documents show.
Splits within the ANC threaten to weaken its position ahead of local elections later in the year that are expected to provide a stern test for a party that has been in power since the end of white-minority rule in 1994.
Political uncertainty has also contributed to a slide in the rand this year and could unnerve ratings agencies as they consider whether to downgrade South Africa to “junk” status, a move which would significantly raise the cost of borrowing.
The Public Protector said on Tuesday that it may seek state funding to investigate the links between Zuma and the Guptas, an inquiry the family said it would welcome because it would end a “trial by innuendo and slander”.
Zuma sacked finance minister Nhlanhla Nene in December and appointed a junior politician with no record of national financial management to the post, before backtracking and summoning past finance minister Pravin Gordhan a few days later.
Last week, Deputy Finance Minister Mcebisi Jonas said that in December, the Gupta family offered him his boss’s job.