South Africa’s Jacob Zuma’s ANC party has resolved to “recall” him as head of state. The decision comes on the back of a 13-hour meeting among the party’s top officials.
South African President Jacob Zuma’s African National Congress (ANC) party on Tuesday said it has decided to remove him from office, but said no deadline had been set for the embattled leader to step down.
Local reports said the party’s National Executive Committee, which met for 13 hours from Monday into Tuesday at a hotel outside the capital, Pretoria, to discuss Zuma’s future, suggest officials have given him 48 hours to resign.
ANC General Secretary Ace Magashule told reporters on Tuesday that Zuma had agreed to step down but wanted to serve a notice period of 3 to 6 months. Magashule said the party could not agree on Zuma’s request for an extended stay.
Magashule said he had met Zuma personally to pass on the decision.
“We haven’t given him any deadline to respond … the organization expects him to go,” he said.
Read more: South Africa’s President Zuma: A chronology of scandal
What happens next?
- Zuma is not legally obliged to follow his party’s instructions.
- In fact, doubts remain over whether Zuma is prepared to relinquish his position any time soon, fueling media speculation that he might refuse and try to carry on as president.
- Such a move, however, would likely be short-lived. The president is already scheduled to face a parliamentary confidence vote on February 22. While he has survived a handful of such votes in the past, Zuma would likely fall far short of the necessary votes without the backing of the ANC.
- “I don’t know what will happen, but let’s leave it to President Jacob Zuma,” Magashule said on Tuesday.
Why does the ANC want Zuma out?
- Since becoming president of South Africa, 75-year-old Zuma has been battling multiple corruption allegations.
- His ties to the wealthy India-born Gupta family has come under particularly scrutiny. The Guptas are believed to have exercised major influence over South Africa’s government.
- While the allegations have seen Zuma’s popularity plummet in recent years, he has never been found guilty of any of the accusations or charges tabled against him.
- Nevertheless, the ANC sees its position at the helm at risk. Under Zuma, the party picked up under 54 percent of the vote in the 2016 local elections — its worst ever political performance since coming to power in 1994 under Nelson Mandela.
Who will take over?
- Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa remains the favorite to replace Zuma as South Africa’s head of state, after he replaced the president as head of the ANC back in December.
- The former trade unionist-turned-billionaire businessman was elected to lead the party after defeating Zuma’s preferred successor, his ex-wife Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma.
- Ramaphosa has said he would place his focus on rooting out corruption and revitalizing South Africa’s lackluster economic growth.
ap, dm/se (Reuters, AFP, dpa)