23 July 2018

South Africa: A Coup Averted After Zuma Resignation - Report

Photo: GovernmentZA/Flickr
President Cyril Ramaphosa with former president Jacob Zuma, left (file photo)

South Africa reportedly avoided a coup by the skin of its teeth in February 2018, after President Jacob Zuma was forced to step down.

According to City Press newspaper, highly placed sources within the ANC urged then-deputy Ramaphosa, who was at the time the president of the ruling African National Congress, to resolve the stand-off with Zuma to avert the crisis.

Army chiefs were reportedly also wary that Zuma's popularity among his former Umkhonto weSizwe comrades was being exploited to mobilise sympathy among the forces.

Senior military leaders played down the threat this week, saying the top brass would not have tolerated a mutiny, that they were "above petty party politics" and the idea of keeping Zuma in power by force did not even arise. They insisted the army was loyal to the Constitution and that the chief of the army, General Solly Shoke, had continuously championed this.

Fringe groups such as the MK Inkululeko Foundation, which was one of Zuma's fiercest defenders, had launched a "Hands off Zuma" campaign, and spoke of a civil war if Zuma was not allowed to complete his term and remain in office until next year's general election.

Zuma also enjoyed significant support in the Umkhonto weSizwe Military Veterans' Association, which comprises the ANC's former liberation soldiers.

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