Zuma staff in limbo as former president packs his bags

Former president Jacob Zuma has not briefed his staff members with regard to where their future lies‚ at least for those who were not employed permanently.

Speaking to TimesLIVE‚ a senior staff member close to the former president said Zuma has not had a formal briefing with his staff since tendering his resignation.

“We haven’t been formally briefed by the president. He’s not going to leave [Mahlamba Ndlopfu] immediately‚ he’s still going to be here to finalise his departure. We as members of the ANC‚ no matter which camp you’re associated with … there can be favouritism and they may remind you that‚ ‘You’re just a civil servant‚'” said a source.

“These developments at the Union Buildings are tricky. DD [ANC deputy president David Mabuza] is coming and he’s a premier [of Mpumalanga]. I can tell you that he’s going to bring his own staff component. The DP [Cyril Ramaphosa] has his own staff component as it is‚ besides the communicators‚ so he won’t leave them behind‚ he’ll take them with to his office‚” the source said.

He said that those staff members appointed permanently under Zuma’s administration‚ could create problems for Ramaphosa‚ so they would have to make way for the newly elected president’s permanent staff members.

The source‚ who did not want to be named for fear of victimisation‚ said this was the “transition” period that Zuma had been talking about.

Zuma had asked the ANC national executive committee for three to six months to say his goodbyes‚ but that request was rejected by the NEC – the party’s highest decision-making body between conferences.

The source said Zuma wanted to establish where he would deploy staff members to avoid conflict of interest.

Last Monday‚ the NEC decided that the country is going through a period of “uncertainty and anxiety” and the matter of Zuma’s exit had to be dealt with urgently in the interests of “unity‚ renewal and hope”.

Former presidency director-general Frank Chikane‚ who was once a chief of staff of former president Thabo Mbeki‚ said Zuma would be allowed to keep one house for a month but has to clear the other official residence.

“The normal procedure is that when a president retires or when his term of office comes to an end‚ the president has a right to keep one of the houses for a month. As far as I’m concerned‚ the president has to release one of the houses and clear it up‚” said Chikane.

“Normally the [former] presidents keep the Pretoria one and clear up the Cape Town house because the president can stay in one of those houses while they are preparing to leave. The new president would then move into one of the houses but in most instances there’s no hurry [to move]‚” he added.

Chikane‚ who has been critical of Zuma as part of the ANC veterans structure‚ said the presidency system has been created in such a way that the outgoing leader is respected.

“The staff that is attached to the president and are on contract‚ such as special advisors‚ they go with the president. But there is core staff in the presidency that remain staff and don’t change‚” added Chikane.

Zuma had three houses in Durban‚ Pretoria and Cape Town when he was president of the republic.

Efforts to get hold of Zuma’s spokesperson‚ Bongani Ngqulunga‚ drew a blank.


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