This allowed David Masondo and Bheki Cele to table a motion at this week’s ANC National Executive Committee meeting, empowering the party’s top six leadership and its newly-elected National Working Committee (NWC) to manage Zuma’s exit.
Reports that Zuma planned to make mass changes to leadership structures at state-owned enterprises (SOEs) also reportedly energised ANC leaders, resulting in a decision to move quickly on the president’s removal.
This also likely motivated Saturday’s swift changes to the Eskom board and its leadership structures, seen as critical in enabling Ramaphosa to sell South Africa as an attractive investment destination to the international community at the World Economic Forum later in January.
Ramaphosa’s decisiveness and the change of tempo in the leadership of the ANC were signalled by his insistence that meetings start on time, with him leading by example at the party’s January 8 statement.
The new ANC president also reportedly met with both the ministers of police and justice, just before crime intelligence boss Richard Mdluli, a vocal backer of Zuma, was removed from his position.
This comes after Berning Ntlemeza was axed as head of the Hawks; deputy prosections head Nomgcobo Jiba and NPA commercial crimes head Lawrence Mrwebi being placed on special leave after a damning court judgment against them; and a court ruling that Shaun Abrahams’ appointment as NPA boss was invalid.
The dissolution of the ANC’s leadership structures in KwaZulu-Natal and the Free State, two key Zuma strongholds, are additional nails in the embattled president’s coffin.
Ramaphosa’s meetings with the Cosatu and SACP leadership on Saturday also show that he recognises the urgency of getting alliance partners back on board, with sufficient time to plan an effective strategy to fight the 2019 general election.
As Ramaphosa prepares to leave for the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos, a short lull in activity can be expected.
But on his return, expectations are that he will turn his attention to non-performing ministries and those perceived as tainted by corruption.
A number of ministers, among them mineral resources minister Mosebenzi Zwane and social development minister Bathabile Dlamini, could see their tenure cut short.