After weeks of speculation, Jacob Zuma is officially no longer the president of South Africa. Zuma announced in a press conference at the Union Buildings on Wednesday night that he was resigning, despite disagreeing with the ANC. Zuma pointed to the violence that had taken place at the ANC’s headquarters at Luthuli House when his supporters clashed with those who wanted him out.
“I have therefore come to the decision to resign as president of the Republic with immediate effect,” Zuma said.
“Thank you, we will meet somehwhere,” he said when leaving the stage.
The ANC’s treasurer-general Paul Mashatile and chief whip Jackson Mthembu, announced on Tuesday morning that the party had decided to give Zuma a deadline of Wednesday to respond to the decision to recall him.
Should he not resign, the party resolved to hold a motion of no confidence in Zuma on Thursday.
In response, Zuma held a lengthy interview with the SABC, in which he said he asked the ANC whether he’d done anything wrong.
He also questioned the timing of the decision, asking what the hurry was. He said the matter could have been discussed at the Nasrec conference in December, but it was not on the agenda so he did not understand why it was so urgent now.
He said the state of the nation address had put pressure on talks of his exit, but he emphasised the address was postponed by him.
Zuma said the matter was handled in a way that contradicted the spirit of unity at conference.
He maintained that he wasn’t being defiant, he just “didn’t agree” with the decision to recall him and he felt that he was being “victimised”.
In his response he was going to say he was open to more discussions but now he was being rushed, he said.
He said he had been in the ANC since a young age, and he’s never seen things run like this – he still hasn’t been told why he should resign.
Following the ANC elective conference, speculation was rife that Zuma would step down sooner rather than later, after he was called upon by the ANC stalwarts and various members of the ANC NEC to step down.
City Press reported last month that ANC president Cyril Ramaphosa’s backers were planning for him to take over the reins in the next few weeks and have him deliver the state of the nation address in February.
However, Ramaphosa was worried that pushing Zuma out as president could cause divisions in the party and incur the wrath of Zuma’s KwaZulu-Natal support base.
Officials close to Ramaphosa told City Press that the new ANC president was eager to occupy office and restore confidence in the country.
ANC stalwarts had also urged Zuma to quit.
“A starting point and a clear message to the country‚ needs to be the recall of President Zuma and to let his stated wish to have his day in court become a reality‚” the stalwarts said in December.
They had expressed their disdain at the level of corruption that existed within the party’s structures.
At the conference, Zuma delivered his final speech as the ANC president, and Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa was voted in as the party’s new political head.
Many of Zuma’s allies felt that he should leave on his own terms, rather than subject himself to the humiliation of an opposition-led impeachment process which, unlike the votes of no confidence, would have large support among ANC MPs.
In December City Press reported that it was just a matter of time before he would go.
One ANC leader said in December: “It was said that he should be requested [to step down] outside of the formalities of the NEC processes, to avoid making it appear as if the NEC removed him. If he does not cooperate, a resolution of the NEC can be easily secured. We all agree that the sooner he goes, the better.”
Zuma had filed an appeal against a court order that transferred the power to appoint the national director of public prosecutions to the deputy president.
This move angered ANC NEC members, and a motion to recall Zuma was put forward at the ANC national executive committee meeting in January, as Zuma struggled to hold on to power amid allegations of state capture and corruption involving the Guptas intensified.
Publicly, Ramaphosa and other ANC members were negotiating a “dignified” exit for Zuma, which could happen within a week.
Zuma is the second president in a democratic South Africa to resign. In September 2008, Thabo Mbeki delivered his resignation speech after being recalled by the ANC after allegedly colluding against Zuma.
Zuma has served as president of South Africa since May 2009. He was re-elected in 2014, and his term as president was expected to end in 2019.
His terms have not been without controversy, including rape and corruption allegations, and his connection to the controversial Gupta family, who have been accused of “state capture”.
The Hawks raided the Gupta compound on Wednesday morning and Ajay Gupta was taken in for questioning, amid rumours that Jacob Zuma’s son, Duduzane, would hand himself in to the special investigating unit.
End of an era: the life and times of Jacob Zuma
President Jacob Zuma has resigned as head of state. We look back at his time in the party and as president of the country.
Zuma, who was president of the African National Congress from December 2007 to December 2017, joined the party at a tender age of 16 in 1959.
He became a member of the armed wing of the ANC, Umkhonto weSizwe, in 1962 and of the South African Communist Party a year later.
However, Zuma and 35 other recruits were arrested by the apartheid security forces in 1963 on their way to Botswana to undergo military training. He was sentenced to 10 years on Robben Island.
On his return, Zuma re-established underground ANC structures in the present KwaZulu-Natal.
He left for Swaziland in 1975 before moving to Mozambique and later Lusaka, Zambia, in 1986, where he held several senior positions in the party.
He returned to South Africa in 1990.
Zuma was appointed KwaZulu-Natal MEC for economic affairs following the country’s first democratic elections in 1994.
At the ANC’s elective conference in 1997, he became its deputy president, with Thabo Mbeki as ANC president.
After the 1999 election, Zuma was appointed deputy president of South Africa. He held this position until June 2005, when Mbeki relieved him of his duties following the conviction of his financial adviser Schabir Shaik on corruption and fraud charges.
A few days after Mbeki fired Zuma, the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) announced Zuma would be charged with two counts of corruption and one of fraud. Zuma appeared in court in the same month.
However, the high court in Pietermaritzburg struck Zuma’s case off the roll in 2006 because the prosecution was not ready to proceed.
Zuma was also charged with the rape of an HIV-positive family friend in December 2005. He told the court he had not used a condom when he slept with Fezekile Kuzwayo, and that he took a shower afterwards to minimise the risk of contracting HIV.
Zuma was acquitted of the charge in May 2006 after the high court in Johannesburg agreed with him that the sexual act with Kuzwayo had been consensual.
He was again charged with corruption in December 2007, shortly after becoming ANC president. However, the acting national director of public prosecutions at the time, Mokotedi Mpshe, discontinued his prosecution in April 2009.
His decision followed representations made by Zuma where recordings were presented to Mpshe of conversations between then Scorpions boss Leonard McCarthy and former NPA boss Bulelani Ngcuka.
Mpshe said the conversations – on when to institute criminal proceedings against Zuma, before or after the Polokwane ANC conference in December 2007 – showed political interference in the decision to charge Zuma.
While Zuma became president on May 9 2009, the corruption charges did not disappear.
Mpshe’s decision to discontinue the prosecution of Zuma was successfully challenged by the Democratic Alliance in a series of legal battles beginning in 2007, the last one of which was decided late last year.
The high court in Pretoria set aside Mpshe’s decision to discontinue the prosecution of Zuma in 2016. The Supreme Court of Appeal dismissed Zuma’s appeal against the high court decision.
The National Prosecuting Authority is still to decide when to try Zuma.
Zuma has also courted controversy on improvements at his Nkandla home using taxpayers’ money.
The Public Protector’s report entitled Secure in Comfort in 2014 said when security improvements totalling R264m were made to Zuma’s home‚ a number of structures were built at state expense that were not related to security. These included a kraal, a swimming pool and an amphitheatre.
The Public Protector recommended that the president had to‚ with the assistance of the ministers of police and finance‚ determine the reasonable costs of those features and repay to the state a reasonable portion of that amount.
Zuma ignored this remedial action, forcing the Economic Freedom Fighters to approach the Constitutional Court in 2016 to challenge his refusal to comply. The court held that the failure by the president to comply was inconsistent with the Constitution and was invalid.
The Treasury was ordered to determine the reasonable percentage of the costs of the non-security upgrades. It put this bill at R7.8-million.
There has also been inaction by Zuma in complying with remedial action by the Public Protector on allegations of state capture.
In her last report as Public Protector in November 2016, Thuli Madonsela had recommended that Zuma should appoint a commission of inquiry to conclude the investigations she had identified in the state of capture.
These included the question of whether Zuma had improperly allowed members of the Gupta family and his son Duduzane to be involved in the removal and appointment of various Cabinet ministers.
Zuma only complied with the remedial action in January this year, following the dismissal of his application to review the Public Protector’s report.
– News 24 / Times Live