South Africa's Zuma 'negotiating over resignation as president'

South African president Jacob Zuma faces calls from within the African National Congress to stand down. REUTERS  Siphiwe Sibeko

South Africa's parliament on Tuesday postponed President Jacob Zuma's state of the nation address scheduled for Thursday amid pressure for him to resign.

Zuma has not said whether he will resign voluntarily before his second term as president ends mid next year.

Then on Monday, Zuma was summoned to meet with the Zulu king as the ANC met to discuss Zuma's future in Johannesburg. The working committee would need to call a full ANC leadership meeting as an extraordinary measure if the party was bent on throwing out Zuma.

Zuma, who is not due to stand down as president until after next year's election, has become increasingly sidelined since the closely fought election of Ramaphosa as leader in December.

Many in the ANC want him gone as soon as possible so they can rebuild the party's standing.

The ANC's mishandling of the transition to a new leadership has damaged both the country and the party, according to Gary van Staden, an analyst at NKC African Economics in Paarl, outside Cape Town.

President Jacob Zuma and Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa share a laugh at plenary on day 2.

Zuma's 10-year tenure has been marked by long-standing, mounting corruption scandals - he faces the prospect of prosecution for 783 counts of corruption, after the nation's prosecuting authority now deliberates whether to reinstate the dismissed charges.

United Democratic Movement leader Bantu Holomisa said on Sunday that Zuma had no other option besides "the constitutional option".

"In that statement the Bishops also called on President Zuma to act as an "Elder Statesman" and to put the good of the country first" and so, Pollitt said, many read that as their appeal to the President to step down for the good of the country.

He is still fighting almost 800 counts of corruption over an arms deal from the late 1990s and his ties with the Gupta brothers, a family of wealthy Indian-born businessmen, are the subject of a judicial inquiry on grand-level corruption.

Previous State of Nation addresses by Zuma have seen an outpouring of anger by his critics. The ANC's also wants to pave the way for Cyril Ramaphosa -anti-apartheid activist, tycoon, and politician- in the 2019 elections.

Zuma has survived several no-confidence votes in the past thanks to loyal ANC lawmakers. "Ramaphosa will look weak if he can't get Zuma out now".

Zuma's defiance of calls to resign has stolen some of the shine from the optimism generated by the victory of Ramaphosa, who's cheered by many investors for his pledges to bolster growth, clamp down on graft and provide greater policy certainty.

The rand has been holding steady at under R12 to the dollar as markets reacted to the postponement of the state of the nation address, an indication that Zuma's resignation could happen in the coming days.

ANC Deputy Secretary-General Jessie Duarte told a news conference that senior party officials would take a proposal to the NEC for discussion on Wednesday, but she declined to say what it was.

The president has been enmeshed in a series of scandals but denies wrongdoing.

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