Zuma to attend ANC 106th birthday celebration
East London – President Jacob Zuma is expected to attend the ANC's 106th birthday celebration as an ex officio member of the national executive committee (NEC), party secretary general Ace Magashule announced on Friday.
Zuma's attendance comes amid speculation that he is negotiating an exit plan with his successor in the ANC, president Cyril Ramaphosa expected to take over as the head of state.
A report by the Mail & Guardian on Friday said Zuma was willing to vacate the Union Buildings only if former African Union Commission chair Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma takes his place as interim state president.
Zuma had endorsed Dlamini-Zuma for the ANC top job which she lost by 179 votes to Ramaphosa in December.
According the M&G article, Zuma is also demanding that his close allies – Minister of Energy David Mahlobo and State Security Minister Bongani Bongo remain in their positions.
When asked to verify the reports, Magashule simply laughed them off as fake news.
Mbeki, Motlanthe won't attend
He said journalists could rely on his office for first-hand information should any developments on negotiations between the two presidents arise.
"There isn't any substance to the rumour or whatever. I don't know where you pick it up that the former AU [Commission] chairperson will be the next president. As we move forward we are not going to respond to speculation, rumours. Just take what we say as we move forward. Let's engage. Let's not have fake news."
Some NEC members had earlier told News24 that they want Ramaphosa, who currently serves as Zuma's deputy in government, to take over from him.
Former ANC president Thabo Mbeki will not attend the January 8 statement ceremony despite an invitation by the NEC, Magashule said.
Another notable leader who will not attend is former ANC secretary general and former interim president Kgalema Motlanthe.
Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta, who met with Zuma on Thursday, will be one of the VIP guests.
Tens of thousands of people are expected to attend the governing party's birthday celebrations, with Ramaphosa delivering the annual January 8 statement that sets the tone for the party for the year ahead.