African National Congress has finally asked President Jacob Zuma to resign

Zexit fever grips South Africa

The wheels turn slowly but after a thirteen hour-long meeting that ended at 3am, the National Executive Committee of the African National Congress has at last announced that the party has informed President Jacob Zuma that he is being recalled as the country’s president. The turn of events is already termed Zexit and the Rand has weakened because of the uncertainty.

Zuma has not yet responded and the ANC says there is no deadline for him to respond. He is understood to have refused to resign and since legally, it is only the National Assembly in parliament which has the right to recall him as state president, it is expected that yet another vote of no confidence in him (there have been a number thus far) might at last be successful. 

If a motion of no confidence against the president is passed in parliament, the entire cabinet will have to resign. A week ago, the annual State of the Nation address Zuma was supposed to deliver to parliament last week was cancelled.

Photograph by Ruvan Boshoff

In mid-December vice-president Cyril Ramaphosa was elected as ANC president and since then the tide against President Zuma has been turning. He faces 783 counts of corruption, relating to a 1999 arms deal, as well as numerous other allegations of nepotism, underhanded deals relating to nuclear energy as well as the spending of huge amounts of state money for personal use. Former President Thabo Mbeki fired Zuma as his vice-president in 2005 because of allegations of fraud and corruption against him. In 2006 Zuma was acquitted in a rape trial before assuming the state presidency in 2009.

The possibility that the turmoil over Zuma might tear the ANC apart has not been ruled out. He has said in the past that his loyalty is not to the country but to his political party. 

“This is a man who has fought and battered his way to the top of public life, and managed to stay there despite the sometimes most incredible odds. Along the way he has created an almost parallel state […]. Through all of this, he himself has never been bothered by morality. Appeals to do what is best for the country, or for the ANC, are not going to work here,” writes Stephen Grootes, political analyst.

If Zuma is removed, he will most likely drag out the plethora of legal cases brought against him for years. He has been an extremely divisive figure with a controversial past – he was involved in the intelligence structures of the ANC when it was still a banned organisation and it has often been said that his hold on power is strengthened by the fact that he knows all of the dirty secrets of his political opponents.

“In so many ways, looking back on Zuma’s career as President, it is now obvious that a quick clean end to it all was always a pipe-dream. He has never done the right thing, he is not going to do it now,” Grootes concludes.

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