South African President Jacob Zuma has resigned from office. He made the announcement Wednesday night while addressing the nation, and his resignation is in effect immediately.
According to the Sunday Times, Zuma had initially refused to resign after his own party, the African National Congress. Even after announcing his resignation, he says that he disagrees with his party’s decision. CNN adds that he denounced his party’s push to remove him from office as “unfair” prior to the announcement that he has resigned. Wednesday was the deadline for his resignation, and if he didn’t resign, his party planned to back a no-confidence motion brought by the Economic Freedom Fighters, an opposition party, on Thursday.
The New York Times tells about the former South African president’s fight against apartheid. Jacob Zuma is a well-known figure who spent time in prison on Robben Island where Nelson Mandela was also imprisoned. He has also served as intelligence chief for the African National Congress.
According to the NYT, Jacob Zuma was originally a beacon of hope when he became South African president almost nine years ago. However, over the years, he has been accused of misconduct multiple times, and his administration has been marked by corruption. The newspaper states that members of his administration often exerted their influence over government decisions in favor of their own personal interests.
The acting South African president is now Cyril Ramaphosa, who served as deputy president under Jacob Zuma and was elected leader of the African National Congress in December. Following his election as leader, according to the NYT, a power struggle between him and Zuma began. It’s expected that Parliament will officially select Ramaphosa to become fifth president since apartheid ended in 1994.
Zuma’s resignation marks the official end to the power struggle between his supporters and Ramaphosa’s supporters within the ANC. Eventually, the political party sided with Ramaphosa and decided to press for Jacob Zuma to resign. According to the Times, Ramaphosa spent about a week pressuring him to step down from his post, and then on Tuesday, the party officially ordered him to resign. The leaders of the ANC said in a statement that for Zuma to remain president would “erode the renewed hope and confidence” of the South African people and also hurt the political party’s electoral interests.
His resignation comes after police raided the Johannesburg home of the Gupta family, which media reports indicate has ties to some of Jacob Zuma’s family members and political allies. Officers reportedly arrested three people following the raid, and political analysts felt that it was meant to send a strong message to Zuma that either he or those closest to him might be next if he continued to defy the ANC’s order to resign.
According to the Huffington Post, Zuma said during his speech announcing his resignation that he “is not scared of any motion” and that he is “not here for perks and benefits.” He also believes he has done his job as president and that he doesn’t fear leaving political office. Jacob Zuma also said that he has been “disturbed by the violence because of the different views in our organisation.”
“No life should be lost in my name,” he added in his televised speech to the nation, according to a transcript by the Post. “The ANC should never be divided in my name.”
He continues to disagree with the decision to remove him from office.