2018-02-15 08:58
Former South African president Jacob Zuma.

Former South African president Jacob Zuma. (Lerato Maduna)

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President Jacob Zuma on Wednesday night tendered his resignation, bringing to an end a reign marked by accusations of maladministration and corruption.

Addressing the nation in a live television broadcast, Zuma thanked the ANC and South Africans for entrusting him with presidential responsibilities.

“I’m forever indebted to the ANC, the liberation movement I served for almost all my life,” he said.

“No life should be lost in my name ... no ANC should be divided in my name. Ladies and gentlemen, I have therefore come to the decision to resign as president with immediate effect.”

Zuma’s announcement followed the decision of the ANC national executive committee (NEC) to recall him.

The outgoing president’s decision to resign was in contrast to the stance he had taken during an interview with the SABC earlier in the day.

During that interview, Zuma had maintained he would not be resigning as directed by the ANC as the party leadership had failed to furnish him with reasons why he should leave.

However, political analyst Somadoda Fikeni said Zuma’s earlier statement that he did not see any reason why he should resign, was intended to drive a wedge between the new ANC leadership and party members.

“He was trying to incite some kind of insurrection within the ANC. As usual, he is trying to play victim,” he said.

Zuma’s earlier refusal to step down had resulted in the ANC setting in motion parliamentary processes that would have resulted in National Assembly voting him out today.

ANC MPs would have supported an Economic Freedom Fighters-sponsored motion of no confidence in Zuma during the parliamentary debate that was secheduled for today, had he not resigned.

ANC deputy secretary-general Jessie Duarte said Z uma’s decision was consistent with the ANC’s position that he would never defy the ANC.

In a briefing at Luthuli House following his resignation, she praised his record while in office.

Following Zuma’s afternoon interview, the ANC and opposition parties were unanimous in their view that Zuma, who previously survived eight attempts to remove him through Parliamentary processes, should be voted out during today’s National Assembly sitting.

Briefing the media after a meeting between chief whips of all political parties represented in Parliament, the ANC’s Jackson Mthembu said all parties were in agreement that Zuma should go.

“We had a very fruitful meeting where all of us agreed to support the motion of no confidence,” the ANC chief whip said.

In the interview, Zuma had said he was prepared to be voted out by Parliament rather than resign. “I disagreed with the decision [of the ANC to remove him] because my feeling is that the decision is not right. The manner in which this decision was taken I have a problem with. They are taking me to Parliament. That’s how I came in. If Parliament says ‘we don’t want you’ I don’t see why that should be a problem,” he said.

Zuma, whose term as the country’s president was due to end next year, said he viewed the decision to recall him as unfair, given that ANC leaders had not provided him with reasons why he should vacate office. Warning the ANC leaders that their decision to remove him could plunge the party and the country into a crisis, Zuma accused certain ANC leaders of “forcing” the matter around his removal for political reasons.

“I’m not defying the ANC, I disagree with the NEC’s decision,” he said in the afternoon.

In the interview, Zuma incorrectly stated that last week’s violent confrontations outside the party’s Luthuli House headquarters were between ANC members. “If the leaders of the ANC are not careful they might cause a bigger problem. You don’t apply authority that way. I hope they will know how to handle the organisation.”

The confrontation was actually between ANC supporters backing calls for his removal and Black Land First (BLF) supporters wanting him to stay on. In 2008, during the beginning of his tenure as ANC president, the NEC recalled then president Thabo Mbeki.

Zuma also said he was hoping that ANC leaders would continue engaging him on the matter around the matter of the “transition”.

The National Assembly was set to elect a new president on Friday. The State of the Nation Address (Sona) is scheduled for Friday evening.

It was not immediately announced late last night whether the presidential election would now be brought forward to Thursday. The status of Zuma’s cabinet also hangs in the balance. It would have been dismissed had Zuma been removed via a parliamentary vote.

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg  |  jacob zuma

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