South Africa’s ruling party, ANC, is formally requesting that President Zuma step down on February 13, 2018 following intensified allegations of corruption and growing political unrest
South Africa’s ruling party, ANC, is formally requesting that President Zuma step down on February 13, 2018 following intensified allegations of corruption and growing political unrest.
The party’s Secretary-General Ace Magashule visited Zuma to officially communicate the party’s decision to remove him as head of state, according to an ANC spokesman.
If he refuses, he is expected to face a vote of confidence in parliament which he is likely to lose.
His presidency has lasted for more than a third of South Africa’s post-apartheid era, but his political career has been beset by scandal and accusations of corruption.
As a teenager he fought against apartheid with the African National Congress (ANC) before being imprisoned alongside Nelson Mandela on Robben Island.
Years later, he became Deputy President of the ruling ANC party in 1997, and then Deputy President in 1999.
In June 2005, he lost his job as Deputy President after being implicated in a corruption trial, having previously been viewed as a successor to then President Thabo Mbeki.
He was also implicated in a 30bn rand (US$5bn) arms deal involving a number of European companies and in 2007 was charged with corruption.
His financial adviser, Schabir Shaik, had already been found guilty of corruption and fraud.
Charges against Zuma were dropped during the last push of his race for the presidency in April 2009 and he went on to win.
South Africa’s Chief Prosecutor said phone-tap evidence suggested the charges had been politically motivated, whilst the main opposition called the decision an abuse of the prosecutor’s role.
In 2016, South Africa’s highest court ruled Zuma had violated the constitution by failing to repay government money that he had spent on his private home, which an anti-corruption body found had amounted to $23 million.
He later repaid the money, and not for the first time faced calls to stand down, which he refused.
In 2017, the Supreme Court of Appeal ruled that he must face 18 counts of corruption, racketeering, fraud and money laundering relating to the 1999 arms deal.
The case was brought before a Pretoria court by the opposition party Democratic Alliance; Zuma denied the allegations against him but lost the case and subsequent appeal.
The Pretoria court ordered Zuma to establish a judicial enquiry into corruption claims against him and his associates, as one of the country’s anti-corruption watchdog recommendations to curb state influence-peddling, which the President attempted to challenge.
A judge ruled that his attempts to challenge the rulings and block a report on corruption had been an abuse of the judicial process.
A wealthy Indian family, the Guptas, are similarly involved in the allegations, accused of using their relationship with the President to obtain lucrative government contracts and influence cabinet appointments.
In December 2017, Zuma was replaced as Head of the ANC party by Cyril Ramaphosa, South Africa’s Deputy President.
The party had been losing popular support under Zuma’s leadership and Ramaphosa promised in his campaign to target corruption.
Zuma has 14 months left of his second presidential term and is not permitted to run in the next elections in April 2019.
Since Ramaphosa’s victory, however, the pressure on Zuma to resign has grown considerably.
The ANC’s National Executive Committee had been expected to make the final decision on Zuma’s future on February 7, 2018, but this was postponed, as was the President’s state of the union address scheduled for the day after.