Zuma's D-Day nears as Ramaphosa promises power transition

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South Africa's ruling African National Congress has called a meeting of its national executive committee, its top decision-making panel, on Monday, after President Jacob Zuma defied calls by the party's top leadership to step down, according to four people familiar with the matter.

Ramaphosa, a 65-year-old lawyer and one of the richest black South Africans, has pledged to revive the flagging economy and clamp down on the corruption that Zuma's critics say have become synonymous with his rule.

Zuma survived calls past year by some members of the NEC for him to quit. If he refuses, the matter could go to parliament for a possible motion of no confidence or impeachment proceedings.

Ramaphosa said the ANC would continue Mandela's legacy by fighting corruption.

"We know you want closure on this matter", Mr Ramaphosa said to the crowd, "but it is important to manage these discussions with objective".

Zuma has overseen a tumultuous nine years in power marked by economic decline and numerous allegations of corruption.

Ramaphosa and members of the ANC's "Top Six" most powerful officials had been due to visit Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu and supporters at various events in Cape Town.

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The Democratic Alliance, the biggest opposition party, referred to unconfirmed media reports that Zuma demanded a state security detail for himself and his family as well as payment by the state of his legal fees.

Zuma's hold over the ANC was shaken in December when his chosen successor - ex-wife Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma - narrowly lost out to Ramaphosa in a vote for new party leader. "The issue we are seeking is that you, our people, must be put first, and not the interests of others". "They need to close this thing early this week".

The National Executive Committee (NEC) is likely to ask him to step down, says BBC Africa Correspondent Andrew Harding.

"Nelson Mandela's objective in whatever he did was to see people of South Africa united".

"We leave this church well armed with the good blessings and prayer.so as the leadership of the ANC we have been well empowered as we move ahead. and as we manage this transition", Ramaphosa told reporters.

"We have arrived at a moment in the history of our country where we can relive that moment when Nelson Mandela was released".