CAPE TOWN (Reuters) - African National Congress (ANC) leader Cyril Ramaphosa and other top party officials pulled out of public events on Friday, fuelling speculation that Ramaphosa was making a final push to force Jacob Zuma to step down as South Africa's head of state.
Zuma, in power since 2009 and battling corruption allegations, has been living on borrowed time since Ramaphosa replaced him as leader of the ruling party in December.
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. However, he pulled out of the events, citing "other pressing commitments".
An ANC official in the Western Cape province said the schedule changes related to the party's push to force Zuma to stand down.
"We all know and anticipate that they are dealing with the current issue that is facing our country," Faiez Jacobs, the party's provincial secretary, told eNCA television.
Ramaphosa has been lobbying for Zuma to resign and has said he hopes to conclude talks with him over a transition of power "in coming days...in the interests of the country." [nL8N1PX0ZA]
A spokesman for Ramaphosa, who also serves as South Africa's deputy president, said the ANC leader no longer had any public engagements on Friday or Saturday.
Ramaphosa is due to give a speech to mark 100 years since the birth of liberation hero Nelson Mandela on Sunday.
Zuma had been due to officiate at a diplomatic awards ceremony in Cape Town on Saturday, according to his office, but that event has been postponed.
(Reporting by Ed Stoddard in Cape Town and Alexander Winning in Johannesburg; Editing by Ed Cropley and Clarence Fernandez)