Intense pressure is mounting on South Africa's President Jacob Zuma to step down as senior figures from his own African National Congress are holding emergency talks over his future. The 75-year-old embattled Zuma has been facing calls to resign from the presidency over a series of corruption allegations which earlier saw him removed as the party leader.
High-level talks are to be held on Monday, 5 February, when senior ANC leaders are expected to meet Zuma. The party's "top 6" and Zuma held a meeting on Sunday, which ended late at night.
"We want to ensure that there is stability in the country and stability in the ANC. That is why tonight we are meeting with President Zuma," said the party's secretary general, Ace Magashule. In December 2017, Zuma was replaced as the ANC leader by deputy president Cyril Ramaphosa.
Though it is not clear what exactly transpired in Sunday's talks, there has been speculation that Zuma refused to stand down. "He [Zuma] refused to resign and he told them to take a decision to remove him if they so wish because he didn't do anything wrong to the country. He's arguing that he complied with all legal requirements including paying back the money. What more do they want from him?" opposition leader Julius Malema wrote on Twitter.
Local reports say Zuma is determined to deliver his state of the union address on Thursday, 8 February and until then he is unlikely to agree to leave.
The ANC is moving cautiously on what it calls "leadership transition" to avert a split in the party, especially when there is an election in 2019. Zuma's second term, which officially ends in 2019, has been quite turbulent with a dwindling economy and multiple corruption allegations.
Ramaphosa, who could become the next president if Zuma is removed from power, has also been pushing for the president's exit. Zuma is anyway set to face a fresh no-confidence vote in the last week of February. Though he survived previous no-confidence motions in the country's parliament, he is not expected to secure his position if the ANC's top figures are ranged against him.