Zuma defies ANC order to leave office

We have now asked the chief whip to proceed with the motion of no confidence tomorrow — Mashatile

Jo’burg, Wednesday

South African President Jacob Zuma fought back today against an order from the ruling ANC party to immediately resign, saying he had been unfairly treated and was given no reason why he should quit.

“It was very unfair to me that this issue is raised,” he said in an unannounced TV interview. “Nobody has ever provided the reasons. Nobody is saying what I have done.” In a rambling 45-minute interview, Zuma did not directly refuse to resign, but said that he disagreed with “the manner in which the decision is being implemented.”

He repeatedly said he was not defying the ANC leadership, but added that “I don’t agree, as there is no evidence of if I have done anything wrong.” He said he would make a further statement later Wednesday.

Zuma, whose reputation has been stained by years-long allegations of graft, has been told by the African National Congress (ANC) party to step down. The South African parliament will hold a vote of no-confidence in Zuma on Thursday if he refuses to go, the ANC said earlier, signalling its determination to eject him from office after days of stalemate.

The struggle has put Zuma at loggerheads with deputy president Cyril Ramaphosa, his likely successor, who is the new head of the ANC. Meanwhile, South Africa’s parliament will hold a vote of no-confidence in President Jacob Zuma tomorrow, the ruling ANC party said, signalling its determination to eject him from office after days of stalemate.

“We have now asked the chief whip to proceed with the motion of no confidence tomorrow in parliament… so that President Zuma is then removed,” ANC treasurer-general Paul Mashatile told reporters today. He said parliament, where the ANC has a large majority, would then “proceed to elect (Cyril) Ramaphosa as president of the republic” — perhaps as early as Thursday or Friday. Zuma, who now faces an ignomious end to his nine scandal-plagued years in power, was expected to respond later on Wednesday to the ANC’s order for him to resign.

“For us, as the ANC leadership, we can no longer wait beyond today,” Mashatile said. “If President Zuma at some point will respond, he will respond, but we can’t continue waiting. The decision has been taken and must be implemented.”

The power struggle over Zuma’s departure has put him at loggerheads with deputy president Cyril Ramaphosa, his expected successor, who is the new head of the ANC. As the deadlock escalated, the party on Tuesday “recalled” Zuma from his post after days of failed closed-door negotiations with Ramaphosa.

The African National Congress (ANC) national executive committee reached its decision after meeting for 13 hours at a hotel outside Pretoria. “Recalling” the head of state is a party-level instruction that the 75-year-old Zuma is under no constitutional obligation to obey.

Earlier Wednesday, police raided the Johannesburg home of the Gupta business family accused of overseeing a web of corruption under Zuma’s rule. — AFP

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