CAPE TOWN– The president of South Africa’s ruling party, the African National Congress (ANC), Cyril Ramaphosa, has confirmed that he has begun direct talks with President Jacob Zuma, his predecessor as ANC leader, on the latter’s future as Head of State.

Ramaphosa, who was elected ANC president in December last year as Zuma completed his maximum two terms as ANC president, Wednesday issued a statement assuring South Africans that his engagement with President Zuma seeks to find a speedy resolution to the current leadership and political impasse.

Ramaphosa was responding to the heightened anxiety over the fate of President Zuma after Parliament announced Tuesday that the president’s annual State of the Nation Address has been postponed to a later date.

In his statement, Ramaphosa noted that there has been a lot of speculation and anxiety about the position of President Jacob Zuma as the head of state and government, adding: “I would like to clarify some matters in this regard.”

“Last night, President Jacob Zuma and I began direct discussions on the transition and matters relating to his position as the President of the Republic. The discussions were constructive and lay the basis for a speedy resolution of the matter in the interests of the country and its people.”

He added that based on the progress made in their discussions, it was agreed to postpone a special meeting

of the ANC National Executive Committee (NEC), the party’s top decision-making body, which had been scheduled for Wednesday, to enable them to conclude the discussions and report back to the ANC, and the country, “in the coming days’.

“I am aware that the uncertainty surrounding the position of the Head of State and Government is a cause for concern among many South Africans. This is understandable. However, I am certain that the process we have now embarked on will achieve an outcome that not only addresses these concerns, but also unites our people around the tasks that all of us must necessarily undertake to build our country,” said Ramaphosa.

“We will be able to communicate further on President Zuma’s position as President of the Republic once we have finalised all pertinent matters. While the current situation has necessitated the postponement until further notice of the State of the Nation Address, the work of government and Parliament will continue.

“This is a challenging time for our country. Both President Zuma and myself are aware that our people want and deserve closure. The constructive process we have embarked on offers the greatest opportunity to conclude this matter without discord or division.”