African National Congress (ANC) leader Cyril Ramaphosa says the ruling party is holding talks over Jacob Zuma's position as president of the country and that those talks should be handled with "care and purpose".
The decision follows talks between the ANC's top six officials and Zuma on Saturday night to discuss the transition of power, said the people, who declined to be identified because of the sensitivity of the matter. The political opposition criticized the private talks, saying the 75-year-old president may have been pressing for an "exit package" in exchange for his resignation.
In another response to a comment, Madiba-Zuma said: "Zuma did not join the ANC in 1991, jumped ship or hip-hopped between the struggle and wealth accumulation".
"He must be prosecuted and, if found guilty, be locked up for his crimes", the Democratic Alliance said.
The Sunday Times has learnt that Ramaphosa is trying to secure Zuma's co-operation in the state-capture investigations and has solicited opinions on legal avenues that would allow the president to avoid prosecution or receive a reduced sentence.
In his speech, the deputy president said the government will wage a "relentless war against corruption and mismanagement of the resources of our country" and that the justice system will punish the guilty.
St George's Cathedral was at the forefront of the anti-apartheid struggle and during a Christmas mass service past year its Archbishop Thabo Makgoba called on the new ANC leadership to act "quickly and decisively" to replace Zuma as head of state.
But Zuma, whose presidency has been tainted by graft scandals, has clung to power after rejecting a request by senior officials of the African National Congress to resign a week ago.
"There are so many people who depend on Zuma to stay in their jobs that they are putting self interest ahead of the party's".
The occasion of Ramaphosa's speech was heavy with symbolism because he spoke from the same balcony where Mandela spoke on February 11, 1990 after he was released from prison by the white minority government of the time.
The ANC's chairperson said on Saturday that South Africans should be patient with Ramaphosa as he holds talks with Zuma for a transition of power.
"As we emerge from a period of difficulty, a period of disunity and discord, this Nelson Mandela centenary year offers us what I would call, a new beginning". He died in 2013 at the age of 95.
When Mandela finished, Ramaphosa briefly addressed the crowd.