Today, South Africa’s ruling party, the African National Congress, decided that it is time Jacob Zuma quits the presidency of the rainbow nation. The decision was reached after an intense 13-hour long deliberation and a one on one meeting between Zuma and deputy president Cyril Ramaphosa.
Zuma has held on to power amidst intense opposition in the last two years. The 75-year-old has been under fire for a number of issues including corruption allegations and a series of bad decisions that negatively affected the country’s economy.
In April 2016, South Africa’s Constitutional court ruled that president Zuma violated the country’s Constitution by refusing to pay back public money used for renovating his private home. Last October, the Supreme Court of Appeal upheld a High Court ruling to reinstate nearly 800 corruption charges filed against him before he became president.
Zuma’s misfortune reached new heights when in December, Ramaphosa, his deputy and rumoured successor, got elected to head the ANC. Since then, there has been increased pressure on Zuma to resign. It is speculated that Zuma may defy ANC’s wishes yet again and technically carry on as president, especially since he had asked to be given a few more months to resign. However, if he does, he will face a vote of confidence in parliament and will likely lose.
According to reports by SABC, Zuma had been told in person by Ramaphosa that he had 48 hours to resign. But a senior party source told Reuters that Zuma had made clear he was going nowhere. The ANC is expected to reveal the results of the meeting via a press briefing later today.
The ongoing events largely mirror those of 2008 when Thabo Mbeki was forced to leave office after his deputy, Jacob Zuma was elected to head the ANC. The whole incident has clearly come full circle with Zuma being ousted by his deputy who is now the head of the party.
As pointed out by Reuters, Zuma’s removal will echo a generational change sweeping through the anti-colonial liberation movements in charge of southern Africa; first with the resignation of Angola’s Jose Eduardo dos Santos, then the military ousting of Robert Mugabe.
Meanwhile, South Africa’s currency value fluctuates in the wake of the news that Zuma is likely to leave office. It has been reported that the rand depreciated against the dollar in early Asian trade today, Tuesday, February 13th. “At 02:05 GMT, the rand traded at 11.95 per dollar, off highs of 11.9979 but weaker than Monday’s close of 11.8867.”