By Olivia Kumwenda-Mtambo
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”.
Mantashe said ANC officials would meet on Saturday to discuss the transition, but Zuma will not be part of the meeting.
“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 the 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.
But Zuma’s wife Tobeka Madiba-Zuma caused a stir on social media on Friday after she posted a picture on her Instagram account, @firstladytzuma, showing her and the president inside what appears to be a plane, with part of the caption reading “It’s going to be ugly. Don’t fight someone who is not fighting you.”
On Saturday, the part saying “it’s going to be ugly” had been edited out of her post.
Zuma’s family said Madiba-Zuma’s remarks were “unfortunate”.
“It’s her own personal view, as family ….we still believe in the democratically elected leadership of the ANC under the leadership of Comrade Ramaphosa, whom we will all support to lead the country beyond,” Zuma’s son Edward Zuma told the SABC on Saturday.
The young Zuma said the family had no direct knowledge of how the talks between Zuma and Ramaphosa were going.
“Government issues and ANC issues are not family issues, therefore the family does not have anything to say regarding this. We as family we will respect whatever decision is taken by the leaders that are in power at the moment,” he said.
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 and Stephen Powell)