South Africa’s ANC ‘divided’ on Zuma’s fate

Top officials in South Africa’s ruling ANC party are divided over whether President Jacob Zuma (pic) should step down after multiple graft scandals. — Reuters pic
Top officials in South Africa’s ruling ANC party are divided over whether President Jacob Zuma (pic) should step down after multiple graft scandals. — Reuters pic

JOHANNESBURG, Feb 6 — Top officials in South Africa’s ruling ANC party are divided over whether President Jacob Zuma should step down after multiple graft scandals, the party’s deputy secretary-general Jessie Duarte said today.

Zuma is due to deliver the annual state of the nation address to parliament in Cape Town on Thursday, despite growing calls for him to quit before the speech.

The national executive committee of the African National Congress (ANC) will meet on Wednesday, hours before the address.

The 80-member committee is the ANC’s highest decision-making body and could “recall” Zuma from the post of president — though he may refuse to comply.

A separate committee of 20 senior ANC officials met in Johannesburg yesterday and “discussed the issue surrounding the future of President Jacob Zuma”, Duarte told reporters.

“It was discussed at a great deal of length. I can say to you that there are different views.

“What we are hoping for is that the NEC (national executive committee) will emerge with a united view on this matter, and that once we have done so we will inform South Africans.”

Many ANC members are pushing for Cyril Ramaphosa, the new head of the party, to replace Zuma, 75, as president immediately.

But Zuma loyalists have said that the serving president should complete his second and final term in office, which would end when elections are held next year.

‘Not fit to govern’?

Duarte confirmed that if Zuma resigned, deputy president Ramaphosa would automatically take over the position.

Zuma faces several court cases, including the matter of 783 payments he allegedly received linked to an arms deal before he came to power in 2009.

Many graft allegations against him have centred on the wealthy Gupta family, who are accused of unfairly obtaining lucrative government contracts and even being able to choose ministerial appointments.

The Nelson Mandela Foundation, which promotes the legacy of South Africa’s anti-apartheid icon, called on Tuesday for Zuma to be ousted as he had “demonstrated that he is not fit to govern”.

In a damning statement, it said there was “overwhelming evidence that systematic looting by patronage networks linked to President Zuma have betrayed the country Nelson Mandela dreamed of.”

Zuma, in power since 2009, could leave office either by resigning, through losing a vote of no-confidence in parliament or impeachment proceedings.

He could also be “recalled” by the ANC — but that would not constitutionally unseat him.

Ramaphosa, 65, is a former trade unionist who led talks to end white-minority rule in the early 1990s and then became a multi-millionaire businessman before returning to politics. — AFP

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