13 February 2018

South Africa's ANC Decides to Remove Jacob Zuma As President - Local Media

South Africa's Jacob Zuma's ANC party has resolved to "recall" him as head of state, local media reported. The decision comes on the back of a 13-hour meeting among the party's top officials.

South African President Jacob Zuma's own African National Congress (ANC) party decided to remove him from office as head of state in the early hours of Tuesday, according to reports in several local media outlets.

Reports from inside the party's National Executive Committee, which met for 13 hours from Monday into Tuesday at a hotel outside of Pretoria to discuss Zuma's future, suggest officials have given him 48 hours to step down. It follows weeks of speculation over his future.

'Tense and difficult' talks

According to a senior source at the ANC quoted by news agency Reuters:

Zuma had not yet been told of the decision.

ANC leader and Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa had spoken to the president that evening. When he returned "the discussions were tense and difficult on whether to recall Zuma."

South Africa's Times newspaper reported:

"It took a brutal 13 hours, but the ANC's national executive committee has decided to recall President Jacob Zuma as head of state"

What happens next?

While the ANC's executive committee has the authority to order Zuma to step aside, the president is not legally obliged to do so.

In fact, doubts remain over whether Zuma is prepared to relinquish his position, fueling media speculation that he might refuse and try to carry on as president.

Such a move, however, would likely be short-lived. The president is already scheduled to face a parliamentary confidence vote on February 22. While he has survived a handful of such votes in the past, Zuma would likely fall far short of the necessary votes without the backing of the ANC.

Why does the ANC want Zuma out?

Since becoming president of South Africa, 75-year-old Zuma has been battling multiple corruption allegations.

His ties to the wealthy India-born Gupta family has come under particularly scrutiny. The Guptas are believed to have exercised major influence over South Africa's government.

While the allegations have seen Zuma's popularity plummet in recent years, he has never been found guilty of any of the accusations or charges tabled against him.

Nevertheless, the ANC sees its position at the helm at risk. Under Zuma, the party picked up under 54 percent of the vote in the 2016 local elections -- its worst ever political performance since coming to power in 1994 under Nelson Mandela.

Who will take over?

Ramaphosa remains the favorite to replace Zuma as South Africa's head of state, after he replaced the president as head of the ANC back in December.

The former trade unionist-turned-billionaire businessman was elected to lead the party after defeating Zuma's preferred successor, his ex-wife Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma.

Ramaphosa has said he would place his focus on rooting out corruption and revitalizing South Africa's lackluster economic growth.

dm/se (Reuters, AFP, dpa)

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