The South African leader, long clouded in controversy, has been left with no choice but to resign after his own party backed a no-confidence motion against him.
After overwhelming pressure from his own party, South Africa’s long-time leader Jacob Zuma has announced his resignation as president.
Zuma was pushed into a corner by his African National Congress (ANC) colleagues after Cyril Ramaphosa was elected to replace him as party president in December, and it culminated with the ANC’s national executive committee agreeing to back a no-confidence motion against him in a drawn-out meeting, which ended in the early hours of Tuesday.
In a 30-minute televised sign off, Zuma said he’d been “victimised” by the ANC and had no idea why.
“I have therefore come to the decision to resign as president of the republic with immediate effect, even though I disagree with the decision of the leadership of my organisation — I am a disciplined member,” he said.
It brings to an end a nine-year long reign as South Africa’s head of state, during which, there has been no shortage of corruption allegations laid against him.
The ANC’s deputy secretary-general, Jessie Duarte, said the end of the Zuma-era signals the beginning of the nation’s rebuild.
“This decision provides certainty to the people of South Africa at a time when economic and social challenges to the country require an urgent and resolute response,” she said.
Ramaphosa will become acting President while the National Assembly elects Zuma’s permanent successor.
It is expected the ANC head, who has been vice-president since 2014, will get the nod as early as Friday, and deliver the state-of-the-nation address on the same day.
Zuma’s resignation came just hours after the Hawks, a police investigative unit, raided the Gupta family’s Johannesburg residence.
The Guptas and Zumas have long had a shady association, with the wealthy brothers Ajay, Atul and Rajesh — originating from India — accused of “buying the president and selling the future of a nation”.
Deputy finance minister Mcebisi Jonas revealed one of the Guptas had offered to promote him as finance minister, and ANC MP Vytjie Mentor said the family offered her the key role of public enterprise minister at their mansion while Zuma was in attendance.
It was also reported that the Guptas demanded they be issued diplomatic passports as they frequently travelled abroad with Zuma on business trips “promoting South Africa”.
But just prior to Zuma ceding his presidency, Ajay Gupta and four other suspects were arrested in connection with the alleged shifting of funds from a failed state-funded dairy project and are due to appear in court on Thursday, according to City Press.
A senior security cluster official also told the Johannesburg newspaper that middle brother and “mastermind” Atul is in talks with the Hawks through his lawyer about turning himself in.
“Zuma’s exit was almost inevitable once it emerged that the ANC was willing to remove him through a vote of no-confidence, his former supporters deserted him and the Hawks showed their intent with raids on the Guptas,” said Mike Davies, the founder of political-advisory company Kigoda Consulting.