By Eric Naki
Ramaphosa can’t grant president’s demand for resignation as law must take its course.
President Jacob Zuma’s desperation for amnesty from prosecution is behind his reliance on his erstwhile nemesis, Cyril Ramaphosa, rather than the entire ANC as a last hope.
If Zuma is not granted immunity from prosecution, he is hoping to be granted a presidential pardon by Ramaphosa, should he be jailed. But it’s all wishful thinking on the part of the president, political analysts told The Citizen yesterday.
Neither the ANC, nor Ramaphosa could give him amnesty as the process to prosecute Zuma was already under way by the National Prosecuting Authority, (NPA) they said.
Political analyst Mcebisi Ndletyana, from the University of Johannesburg, said Ramaphosa would be wary to act contrary to his undertaking that all corruption peddlers must account for their misdeeds.
“It is very possible he needs amnesty from prosecution, but that’s not something Ramaphosa can absolutely guarantee. Even if he granted him amnesty, that wouldn’t stop him from being prosecuted because it is the decision of the independent NPA.”
According to Ndletyana, even a presidential pardon is out of the question because Ramaphosa wouldn’t want to be seen letting people convicted of corruption off the hook.
“Whatever offers Ramaphosa comes up with to Zuma, they have to be offers that do not come back to haunt him.”
Another analyst, Susan Booysen, from Wits University, said the Ramaphosa initiative was an acknowledgement that Zuma could no longer rely on his supporters in the top six, such as Ace Magashule and Jessie Duarte.
“It makes sense that Zuma wants to extract concessions from Ramaphosa. But the deputy has no power to grant him amnesty and even a presidential pardon has to be granted after a conviction – and Zuma claims to be innocent,” Booysen said.
Besides, there is a rule of law and due process that must be followed. Ramaphosa would there fore be unable to make concessions unless Zuma appeared in court to face the law. The State of the Nation address (Sona), due today, was postponed to allow Zuma and Ramaphosa to negotiate a smooth exit.
The country’s two most powerful men this week began bilateral talks in which Zuma was said to have put the question of his immunity from future prosecution on the table.
They were trying to reach an amicable solution to avoid Zuma from being fired by the party’s national executive committee (NEC) or removed through an ANC initiated motion of no confidence in parliament.
The NEC members got agitated when Zuma rejected the party’s top six officials and the national working committee requests for him to resign. Ramaphosa saved the president from the axe when he requested a postponement of the NEC meeting in Cape Town. The party leader yesterday described his engagement with Zuma as “constructive”.
In a statement yesterday, Ramaphosa confirmed he has begun discussions with Zuma on the transition during the meeting at Zuma’s Cape Town residence “The discussions lay the basis for a speedy resolution of the matter in the interests of the country and its people.”
The ANC president was optimistic of the bilateral results saying the “constructive process we have embarked on offers the greatest opportunity to conclude this matter without discord or division”.
Ramaphosa did not divulge Zuma’s conditions for his resignation, but it is understood amnesty from prosecution topped the list./AFP