After intense pressure from his own political party, the African National Congress, Jacob Zuma has resigned as President of South Africa
After intense pressure from his own political party, the African National Congress, Jacob Zuma has resigned as President of South Africa.
The 75-year-old, who has been in power since 2009, had been facing calls to give way to Deputy President and ANC leader Cyril Ramaphosa following numerous allegations of corruption.
Threatened with facing a vote of no confidence in parliament, Zuma made a televised statement on February 15, 2018 in which he said he was quitting with immediate effect, but that he disagreed with the party’s decision.
He added that division and violence within the ANC had influenced his decision to leave and paid tribute to those colleagues he had worked with.
His removal has been celebrated throughout the country as marking the end of an era of consecutive allegations of corruption.
His remaining supporters, however, point to his achievements, such as the free fees for higher education.
A former member of the ANC’s military wing during the apartheid in South Africa, Zuma rose through the party’s ranks to become President, leading the country for more than a third of the time post-apartheid.
He leaves office, however, with South Africa’s economy crippled and with several scandals to his name.
His resignation capped a period of fast-paced events, with the ANC’s National Executive Committee recalling Zuma on February 14 and giving him until the next day to resign.
Chief Whip Jackson Mthembu then announced a parliamentary motion of no-confidence for the 16th, with Ramaphosa’s swearing in planned for as soon as possible afterwards.
Early on the morning of the 15th, police raided the home of his close associates, the Indian-born Gupta family, and made arrests.
The Guptas face accusations of using their wealth and close friendship with the President to exercise huge political influence, which both parties deny.
Born into poverty and with no formal schooling, Zuma joined the ANC’s military wing in 1962.
Convicted in 1963 of conspiring to overthrow the apartheid government, he was imprisoned on Robben Island alongside Nelson Mandela for 10 years, followed by a period of exile that lasted until 1990, when the ban on the ANC party was lifted.
In 1994 Zuma was elected to chair the party, then in 1999 he became Deputy President of South Africa.
He lost his position in 2005 after being implicated in a fraud trial, but became President in 2009 two weeks after the corruption charges were dropped.
The scandals re-emerged in October 2017 as part of a Supreme Court of Appeal ruling that stated he must face 18 counts of corruption, fraud, money laundering and racketeering.
Zuma had 14 months left of his presidential term when he quit, as he had served two terms and so was not permitted to run again in the 2019 election.
Ramaphosa has taken over as President and is the favourite to win the upcoming election, promising a `new dawn’ for the people and country of South Africa.
In his resignation statement, Jacob Zuma said: “No life should be lost in my name and also the ANC should never be divided in my name.
“I have therefore come to the decision to resign as President of the Republic with immediate effect.
“Even though I disagree with the decision of the leadership of my organisation, I have always been a disciplined member of the ANC.
“As I leave I will continue to serve the people of South Africa as well as the ANC, the organisation I have served… all of my life.”
The ANC issued a statement saying that the resignation provided “certainty to the people of South Africa”.
Deputy Secretary-General Jessie Duarte said that it was a “very painful moment” for Zuma’s supporters, but that “the ANC wants to salute the outstanding contribution he has made” as he remains a principled member of the party.