ANC secretary-general Ace Magasule addresses media after the party’s first parliamentary caucus meeting of 2018. VIDEO: Chantall Presence / ANA

International and local media were kept in suspense on Thursday after MPs from South Africa’s ruling African National Congress (ANC) emerged from a caucus meeting with no word yet on if or when the country’s president Jacob Zuma will be stepping down.

The caucus meeting was addressed by ANC President Cyril Ramaphosa as well as members of the party’s new top six leadership elected in December.

ANC secretary-general Ace Magashule held an impromptu media briefing, telling journalists that the purpose of the meeting was a meet and greet and ensuring MPs would deliver on the party’s mandate spelled out in resolutions adopted at its December elective conference.

The question of whether Zuma will remain president did not come up.

“The president of the ANC (Ramaphosa) has released a statement yesterday and we have also released a statement to say that there are constructive and fruitful discussions between President Zuma and President Ramaphosa and in due course we will know how that discussion is going,” said Magashule.

MPs, which included members of Zuma’s cabinet, hugged and kissed each other as they emerged from the caucus meeting, many seeing each other for the first time this year. 

They would have been part of the pomp and ceremony associated with the state-of-the-nation address which was meant to take place on Thursday. On Tuesday, Parliament’s presiding officers announced the event, which marks the official opening of the legislature for 2018, had been cancelled amid the uncertainty over who would lead the country.

On Wednesday, Ramaphosa released a statement saying he remained in talks with Zuma around his future.

An announcement on the outcome of the battle for the South African presidency is expected to be announced shortly after these talks are concluded with no one at this stage willing to commit to a timeline.  

– African News Agency (ANA)