Zuma quits under cloud of scandals
“The ANC should never be divided in my name,” Zuma said in a
televised address to the nation. “I have therefore come to the decision
to resign as the president of the republic with immediate effect.”
Zuma spoke after the ANC announced it would hold a parliamentary vote
of no confidence in him on Thursday. Calls for him to quit had grown
since Ramaphosa replaced him as ANC leader in December, and his fate was
sealed when the party’s National Executive Committee decided on Monday to
order him to step down.
Ramaphosa, who has served as deputy president since 2014, will become
acting president and the National Assembly must choose a replacement
for Zuma within 30 days.
Ramaphosa is likely to be elected in a
permanent capacity on Friday and deliver the State of the Nation Address
the same day. The keynote speech was postponed on February 6, two days
before Zuma was due to deliver it, due to the turmoil within the ruling
In an interview with the state broadcaster earlier on Wednesday, Zuma
strongly criticised the ANC’s decision to remove him, calling it
“unfair”, and said, “I think we are being plunged into a crisis that I
think my comrades will not be able to handle”.
The resignation gives Ramaphosa, 65, more time to convince voters
before elections next year that he’s committed to meeting his pledges to
rebuild a battered economy and clamp down on the corruption that critics say
has become synonymous with the Zuma era.
While Zuma’s cabinet doesn’t have to resign, Ramaphosa will be able
to hire and fire ministers as he sees fit. With the National Budget due
to be presented to Parliament on February 21, investors will be watching to
see if he retains
Malusi Gigaba as his finance minister.
Zuma, 75, has spent years fending off allegations that he took bribes
from arms dealers and enabled members of the Gupta family, who are one
of his son’s business partners, to influence cabinet appointments and
loot billions of rand from state companies.
His resignation came just hours after the Hawks, a police
investigative unit, raided the Gupta family’s Johannesburg residence.
One of the Gupta brothers and four other suspects were arrested in
connection with the alleged shifting of funds from a failed state-funded
dairy project and are due to appear in court on Thursday,
Johannesburg’s City Press newspaper reported.
“Zuma’s exit was almost inevitable once it emerged that the ANC was
willing to remove him through a vote of no confidence, his former
supporters deserted him and the Hawks showed their intent with raids on
the Guptas,” said
Mike Davies, the founder of political-advisory company Kigoda
Growth has averaged just 1.6% a year since Zuma took office in
2009, undermined partly by a series of policy missteps and
inappropriate appointments that rocked investor and business confidence.
Disgruntlement with his rule caused support for the ANC to fall to a
record low in 2016 municipal elections and cost it control of
Johannesburg, the economic hub, and Pretoria, the capital.
A lawyer and one of the wealthiest black South Africans, Ramaphosa is
widely expected to adopt more business-friendly policies, prompting the
rand to rise more than any other currency against the dollar since his
election as ANC leader on December 18.
It advanced to its highest against
the US currency since February 2015 on Wednesday.
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