By Hassan Isilow
Pro- and anti-president demonstrators clashed Monday outside Luthuli house, the party headquarters of the ruling African National Congress (ANC), as leaders met inside to decide Jacob Zuma’s future.
The anti-Zuma group calling itself ‘Protect Luthuli house’, attacked a van transporting members of the Black First Land First (BLF) movement that had come to the headquarters to defend Zuma.
Members of the ANC National Working Committee (NWC) were meeting to determine Zuma’s future after he refused a request to resign Sunday by the party’s top six officials.
Local media quoted sources who said Zuma refused to step down on the grounds he had done nothing wrong and had complied with all legal requirements in a corruption case in which he alleged used tax payers’ money to build his rural home.
Opposition parties and civil society groups have demanded the ANC remove the 75-year-old president, whose time in office has been marred by a number of corruption allegations.
Zuma faces hundreds of criminal charges, including corruption, racketeering and fraud linked to a 1999 multibillion-dollar government arms deal.
Former National Prosecution Authority head, Mokotedi Mphse, withdrew 783 corruption charges against Zuma nine years ago, just weeks before he was elected the nation’s leader, but a high court last year ordered the charges be reinstated.
Experts say ANC officials want Zuma to resign because he has become a liability that could cost the party votes ahead of the 2019 general elections.
Zuma has survived several no-confidence votes due to his ruling ANC party having a majority in parliament. And he faces another no confidence vote later this month.
He stepped down as ANC president in December after serving two terms as party leader. He has been weakened by the election of his deputy, Cyril Ramaphosa, as party leader.
Experts believe Zuma could lose a motion of no confidence as his party is divided.