Embattled President of South Africa, Mr. Jacob Zuma, has resigned his office with immediate effect.
In a 30-minute farewell address to the nation on Wednesday evening, 75-year-old Zuma said he disagreed with the way the African Nation Congress (ANC) had shoved him toward an early exit after the election of Cyril Ramaphosa as party president in December, but would accept its orders.
“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.
“No life should be lost in my name. And also the ANC should not be divided in my name,” Zuma said. Zuma’s governing party, the ANC, had told him to resign or face a vote of no confidence in parliament today.
The 75-year-old has been under increasing pressure to give way to Deputy President Ramaphosa, the ANC’s new leader. Zuma faces numerous allegations of corruption. Earlier yesterday, Zuma refused to heed calls to step down as South African president, denouncing moves by the ruling ANC to remove him following a string of damaging corruption scandals. The ANC formally asked him to resign on Tuesday.
“I am being victimised here. I think there has been a misinterpretation,” Zuma said in an attempt to present his side of the story.
Zuma, however, indicated he would accept the outcome of a parliamentary vote of no confidence against him, which has been scheduled for today. The former president didn’t wait for the confidence vote.
During more than a week of negotiations with the ANC’s key decision-making body, Zuma said that “nobody provided the reasons, nobody has been able to provide me with what I have done.” Zuma denied any wrongdoing over the corruption allegations of recent years.
“There is no problem. There has never been a problem,” he said in the televised remarks. The ANC “will regret the crisis they have caused,” he said. During the negotiations with the ANC leadership, Zuma said he had in principle agreed to step down but presented “a package” of demands that included him staying in power for several more months.
The ANC didn’t accept those conditions, said Zuma.“I am open to further discussion, but they are rushing [into a vote of no confidence],” he said, adding that he was unjustly “portrayed as this person who is defying the leadership.”
Zuma, who became president in 2009 and whose second term officially ends in 2019, has already faced six no-confidence motions, four of which were voted on.
This time, the vote would have succeeded because the ANC holds a large majority of seats in parliament, and the vote of no confidence is decided by a simple majority. If Zuma had lost the vote, South Africa’s chief justice will preside over the election of a new president, while the cabinet will have to resign. The ANC caucus in parliament decided to hasten the vote, which had been initially requested by opposition party Economic Freedom Fighters for February 22.
“We want certainty. “We would like the incoming president [to hold the postponed State of the Nation address] without delay,” he said.
Earlier on Wednesday, police arrested three people from the Johannesburg home of the Gupta family, linked to the corruption scandals that have engulfed Zuma. Hangwani Mulaudzi, the spokesman of the elite crime investigation unit the Hawks, confirmed the arrests to dpa, without disclosing the identity of those arrested. Arrest warrants had been issued for two other people who were expected to hand themselves over to the police, Mulaudzi said.
Media reports said those arrested are expected to appear before a commercial crimes court in the city of Bloemfontein.
The influential Gupta family, which has business interests in the computer equipment, mining, air travel, energy, technology and media industries, have been accused of influencing the state together with Zuma through lucrative business deals and possibly even influencing ministerial appointments.