The African National Congress will on Thursday support a motion to get rid of a defiant Jacob Zuma as state president.
After weeks of "discussions" with President Jacob Zuma, ANC treasurer-general Paul Mashatile announced on Wednesday after an ANC caucus meeting in Parliament that the party's MPs would support the Economic Freedom Fighters' motion of no confidence against Zuma.
Shortly after Mashatile and ANC chief whip Jackson Mthembu briefed the media, Speaker of the National Assembly Baleka Mbete announced that the EFF's motion of no confidence against Zuma - originally scheduled for February 22 - had been rescheduled to Thursday. Voting will take place by open ballot.
Mthembu said dependent on the availability of Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng, the National Assembly would also elect a new president after the motion of no confidence, with ANC president Cyril Ramaphosa the ANC's choice.
He said the ANC would have preferred to bring its own motion of no confidence against Zuma, but this was not possible, as the EFF's motion has already been scheduled. The ANC asked the EFF to withdraw its motion but the party "flatly refused", Mthembu said.
Therefore the ANC would move to amend the EFF's motion.
SONA possibly on Friday
"We are bringing in the ANC reasons on why the president should be removed," said Mthembu.
The parliamentary rules allow a motion to be amended, and Mthembu said the ANC did not discuss this with the EFF.
Mthembu said if Zuma is removed by the motion, Ramaphosa would be elected as president thereafter on Thursday, and the State of the Nation Address (SONA) could be delivered on Friday, February 16.
"I can assure you, if we were to elect a new president tomorrow, we can have the State of the Nation Address on Friday," said Mthembu.
He said it was paramount that the budget, scheduled for next Wednesday, February 21, goes ahead as planned.
Mashatile said that if Zuma adhered to the ANC national executive committee's imposed deadline for his resignation and leaves office by Wednesday, there would be no need for the motion.
On Tuesday, ANC secretary-general Ace Magashule denied that the party had imposed a deadline on Zuma, but on Wednesday Mashatile confirmed that there was indeed a deadline.
According to Mashatile, the entire ANC caucus agreed that Zuma must be removed.
Both Mashatile and Mthembu made it clear that the party wanted to move swiftly and acknowledged that the impasse was having an impact on the functioning of government and Parliament.
"We don't have time be bickering about who should be president," said Mashatile.
"We are starting a new era."