South Africa’s scandal-plagued President Jacob Zuma faces a no-confidence vote by the ruling ANC’s National Executive Committee (NEC), with at least three of his cabinet ministers turning against him, local media reported.
The NEC, which is meeting in the capital, Pretoria, is the only body in the ruling party that can remove its leader, besides its five-yearly congress.
It extended a scheduled weekend meeting into a third day on Monday after Tourism Minister Derek Hanekom proposed the no-confidence motion on Saturday, the Afrikaans-language daily Beeld said.
Two more cabinet members – Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi and Public Works Minister Thulas Nxesi – have since joined Hanekom in asking Zuma to step down, News24 reported.
One senior ANC official, who asked to remain anonymous, said Zuma would probably manage to survive the latest attempt to dislodge him by the growing number of ANC figures unhappy with his leadership.
“Even if there’s secret ballot, he’s still likely to get the numbers,” the official told Reuters news agency.
Al Jazeera’s Tania Page, reporting from Johannesburg, said while the ANC had confirmed the extension of the meeting into a third day, it had not publicly announced the reason behind that decision.
“The ANC has definitely taken an unsual stance to extend the meeting, but as these are traditional closed-door meetings, the reports of Zuma facing a no-confidence vote are based on local media reports alone.
“However, we can see that the cumulative effect of intense pressure on Zuma has now started to show the rather deep fractures and cracks in the ANC.”
The president, who has faced mounting criticism of his leadership, came under further pressure this month when a corruption probe unearthed fresh allegations of misconduct.
The probe by the country’s top watchdog investigated possible criminal activity in Zuma’s relationship with the Guptas, a business family accused of wielding undue political influence.
But Zuma, 74, retains strong loyalty among many rank-and-file ANC party members, as well as its lawmakers, and easily survived a vote of no confidence in parliament on November 10.
His presidency has been plagued by scandal and the nation’s anti-graft watchdog this month asked for a judge to investigate alleged influence-peddling by a wealthy family Zuma has called his friends.
Increasing numbers of anti-apartheid veterans, ANC activists, trade unions, civil groups and business leaders have called for Zuma to resign in recent months.
Zuma has denied any wrongdoing.
The ANC, which has ruled since Nelson Mandela won the first post-apartheid elections in 1994, has seen its popularity dive, with local polls in August delivering the party’s worst-ever result.
Zuma’s term in office ends in 2019, but the ANC is due to elect a new party leader at the end of next year and could decide to replace him as head of state.