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South Africa’s Zuma quits after party turns against him

JOHANNESBURG (Reuters ) – On the day Jacob Zuma finally caved to pressure to quit as South African president, he ranted to the state broadcaster for an hour about the ill treatment he had received at the hands of the party he had served since his teenage years.

Zuma, besieged by sleaze and graft scandals throughout his nine tumultuous years in power, said it was “unfair” the African National Congress had told him to resign, mainly because his comrades had not followed proper party procedure.

To South Africans who have suffered economic stagnation and national embarrassment under Zuma, it was yet more evidence of a leader unable to look beyond the byzantine inner workings of Africa’s oldest liberation movement to consider the greater good of Nelson Mandela’s ‘Rainbow Nation’.

Zuma, a 75-year-old anti-apartheid veteran and Zulu polygamist, has been South Africa’s most controversial leader since the end of white minority rule in 1994.

It was Zuma’s mastery of the ANC’s internal dynamics that enabled him to survive for so long, but his political influence had been on the wane since Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa replaced him as ruling party leader in December.

As recently as August, after loyal lawmakers helped him defeat a no-confidence vote brought by the opposition, he cracked jokes and broke into song with a cheering crowd outside the South African parliament.

Six months later, he was forced to resign after the ANC’s parliamentary caucus told him it would help the opposition sack him on Thursday via yet another no-confidence vote.

“It’s us who got South Africa into this mess by electing Zuma to be president,” Jackson Mthembu, ANC chief whip has said. “We should have looked closely into the man. With hindsight we made a terrible error of judgement.”

Zuma was acquitted of raping a family friend in 2006 and is still fighting nearly 800 counts of corruption over a government arms deal from the late 1990s when he was deputy president.

He was found to have violated the constitution for failing to repay public money used to renovate his homestead but has so far escaped with giving a half-apology. He eventually paid back more than $500,000.

Zuma has come under fire over his ties to the Gupta family, whose members include three businessmen accused of using their friendship with him to amass wealth and influence government policy. The Guptas and Zuma deny any wrongdoing.

In 2012, Zuma also angered many for scolding “clever blacks” in a speech.

FACTBOX: The major scandals of Zuma’s presidency


Ramaphosa, 65, now controls the ANC’s National Executive Committee, its top decision-making body.

A former trade union leader and one of the country’s richest black businessmen, Ramaphosa has promised to root out corruption and revitalise a sluggish economy, pledges which have driven a “Ramaphosa rally” in the rand currency .

Waning electoral support for the ANC and public anger at near-daily corruption revelations encouraged the ANC to pressure Zuma into resigning well before his second term was due to end in mid-2019.

Zuma, whose Zulu middle name Gedleyihlekisa means “the one who smiles as he hurts you”, has cast a long shadow over South African politics for the past decade.

He was booed in front of foreign dignitaries at liberation hero Nelson Mandela’s memorial service in 2013, lampooned in the media and criticised for overseeing years of economic decline.

But the folksy charm of Zuma, a teetotaller, and his modest upbringing ensured that he always retained a loyal following, especially in rural areas.

“There is no politician whose name carries the same weight in rural areas as Jacob Zuma,” said Carl Niehaus, an ANC spokesman who quit in 2009 after a scandal about his personal finances only to re-emerge eight years later as a Zuma cheerleader. “He was a pro-poor president under whose leadership basic living conditions improved drastically.”

During the apartheid era, Zuma was imprisoned for 10 years with Mandela on Robben Island. Later he went into exile, before returning as white rule came to an end.

Commentators had written off Zuma’s political career on several occasions, but he proved them wrong time after time, earning himself the nickname of the “great survivor”.

Ronnie Kasrils, a former intelligence minister and anti-apartheid veteran who spent years in the ANC underground, said Zuma was not the “simple man” he portrayed himself to be.

“Astute and engaging from earlier days, along the way Zuma has become driven by a lust for wealth and power,” Kasrils wrote in “A Simple Man”, his recent biography of Zuma.

Using skills honed as the ANC’s intelligence chief during apartheid, Zuma silenced dissenting voices by promoting little-known officials who did his bidding to powerful positions in the security and intelligence portfolios.

Zuma also ensured the top leadership of the ANC was always controlled by loyalists who could, if needed, thwart attempts to unseat him.

“The politics of patronage sustained Zuma,” said Bantu Holomisa, an opposition leader and former ANC member. “All those who would have questioned him were rewarded with cabinet posts and ambassadorships abroad. Those who were deemed undesirable were ferreted out of the ANC.”


For Zuma, everything changed in December.

Ramaphosa defeated Zuma’s preferred successor, his ex-wife Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, in the ANC leadership contest. Several prominent Zuma allies on the National Executive Committee recognised which way the wind was blowing and switched allegiances.

Zuma made some last-minute concessions in the hope that opponents would let him see out his time, agreeing to establish a judicial enquiry into allegations that the Gupta brothers had influenced cabinet appointments and received unfair access to state tenders.

But it was too little, too late. South Africans started discussing “when” not “if” Zuma would be given the boot.

Early this month parliamentary speaker Baleka Mbete agreed to schedule another no-confidence vote against Zuma following a request by one of Zuma’s political nemeses, Julius Malema of the ultra-left Economic Freedom Fighters party.

Zuma said Ramaphosa was willing to let Zuma stay on as president for several months, but the party’s executive committee wanted Zuma gone immediately.

Analysts caution that Zuma’s legacy will take time to fade.

“Zuma’s departure is nothing more than an opportunity for change,” said Ralph Mathekga, a political analyst and author. “Government coffers have been ransacked and our state-owned enterprises are on their knees. South Africa is broke.”

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  1. Cameroon is Next! When is Paul Biya Quiting?

    • Cameroon is a french province oversea.So the issue of biya quitting is foreign news.Cameroun is run by a life president. In cameroun the presidency is the home of a monarch.But south Africa is a democratic society where the presidency is not occupied by a single president for more than 10 years. In south Africa, a common man in the street is free to visit the presidential palace but in Yaounde how many people have ever near the gate to etoudi?

  2. Thanks to ZANU PF for setting a befitting trend. Now no one will wonder why the rest of French Africa headed by dictator Paul Biya looks like ape land. Ambaland shall be free at any cost it entails. Long line the struggle. Long line freedom.

  3. @ ambaland

    Next will be Queen Elizabeth ,therefore ambazonia don’t tell us what to do , we are listening to Cameroonian not terrorist

    • With your mop like Pima for donkey. Your Mami Pima.

      • @ ambablood

        Your own last like Pima for camel . Your papa Pima nyamfuka .

        Why are you care about Cameroon terrorist

        • Why you care about Bamenda you this dirty scattered frog? Your Grand Mami Pima. Mouth like Pima for swine.

    • It may interest you to know that the Queen REIGNS but does not RULE the UK, her position being hereditary rather than elective. Call it an anachronism if you so please but that is the British Constitution, till further notice.

      • Tell further notice ?! Maybe 200 pretty nutty british citizens would vote for a ruling monachy over democratic constitution ,if it ever got proposed .You write to your MP in Britian if you have a vaild problem over there and it gets evaluated and dealt with ,very quickly even more if you get a petition (a group of citizens signing in agreement) going.

        • Plus if any MPs dont get the results the electorate deem ,worth their votes, they get voted out or replaced pretty quickly by the party ,the whole set up and everyone in it,is based on results.The replacement of Zuma is normal ,suprising he didnt have to step down the day he suggested an ex family member should be considered politicaly within his party.

    • @Bamendaboy. Some of your ignorance has gone pass the brim. That’s why it can only now spill over. It doesn’t surprise any why people like you are the ones propagating the reign of Biya and the stagnation of your country. These are the results of ignorance, fear, illiteracy, and the list can on and eternal. Foolishness, they say, if it remains quiet will not be noticed. But some of you in your arrogance and stupidity cannot keep silence. Comparing Queen Elizabeth to Biya. Na wahooo.

      • @ koki

        na who build South Africa, na white man ,no be black people used your common sense idiot.

        NA wahooo too

  4. Original Black Bantu

    The food he has prepared for Mugabe, is now on his table. A tsia tchou!!

  5. South Africa is a democratic society and the president respects the constitution and should not be compared with a banana Republic of Biya and Cameroon , where the president is above the country and it constitution.

    • @Siboni

      Should you not dwell on specifics rather than generalizations to make your comparisons? What is the duration of presidential mandate, for example, or law on personal wealth accumulation or how to treat political prisoners( Nelson Mandela there, Ayuk Tabe here), etc? Take note that while Jacob Zuma was virtually forced to resign, Paul Biya is being urged to run for office (youth, UPC, presidential majority, ).
      Comparisons only make sense when related, relevant parameters are considered.

  6. Please do not compare Cameroon and South Africa
    If white did not developed that country, SA will be nothing, and if white did not have a big say in South Africa economy, Zuma will not resign.

    • IF the whites were French and President Zuma operated under a “Cooperation Accords Alliance” with Paris then Zuma would NOT resign. South Africa’s independent electoral commission (iEC) becomes ELESA packed with ANC partisans who control electoral boxes at night with the ministry of home affairs. There will be no Vice President position held byCyril R. Cannot compare!

    • Both SA and Cameroon have whites, Mon Cher ami!!!!!! What’s your point?

      • @john Dinga
        My friend there are two types of white colonialist. Those who came to stay like those in South Africa and those who came to steal the resources and leave. Like the French.
        In South Africa most of white do not remember their origin, maybe just like African that descent of Bantou.

  7. thanks Zuma

  8. Only trickery and death, can help change a president in Cameroon, nothing else.
    That is why, everyone says it – brasseries DU cameroon. Such news, does shaken
    anyone in yaounde, because they know how to instruct brasseries to churn out
    more brands or bottle colors and names.
    What is happening, with live president Biya? In SA, the people will be told a
    minute by minute info. In LRC, we all know it will be termed terrorism to dare ask.

  9. And in other news;

    Ethiopia: Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn has offered his resignation as head of state and coalition leader.
    “I see my resignation as vital in the bid to carry out reforms that would lead to sustainable peace and democracy,” he said in a televised address.”Unrest and a political crisis have led to the loss of lives and displacement of many.”

    French Africa remains a disgrace to a progressive state.

  10. The Prime Minister of Ethiopia, has also tendered his resignation. He cited the increasing untested in the the Country, and felt he should step aside in place of a new leader who may be able to pacify the restive groups like the Promos. This is wisdom and love for human life atleast. X-ray your Rulership and see if u need to continue or not, why and for who do you rule for? How was the Country when you took over? How is the Country today? Man be wise and truthful to yourself. God is watching ooo

  11. Increased unrests from restve groups like the Oromos.

  12. The Ethiopian Prime Minister is merely concsious that Ethiopia will still exist in his absence, and so it’s better to act fast and reduce the numerous blames and fingers pointing towards his and accusations for the death of many Ethiopians. The life of the people is precious. His greatest words are for peace and democracy. Not in Cameroon were the guy(?) in Etoudi has stuffed democracy, corruption is high, country divided, poor road network Contributing to many accidents and deaths. Yet he seems not to acknowledge his failure and think of a redress. Its unbelievable.

  13. Cameroon is still so backward that we see the president as a demi-God..
    Parliamantarians dont have any Agenda..They come to dance and sing praises to the President..
    They will never criticize the president not to talk of voting him out of office..
    We have an old man that stopped thinking some years ago,yet people still line the streets and dance each time he goes to and from Europe..
    He appionts and sack at will..Is not accountable to any one as he thinks he is God..
    Can you imagine this is cameroon in 2018?

    he even make laws and changes the constitution at will..
    When young people say enough is enough, they are branded terrorist and killed or jailed..
    This is the simple reality in a backward economy or country call Cameroon

    • no whahala a south-west man cant never be an interim president from ambasonia hahahha

      • Pharaon,
        You and Zam Zam have shown your true colors and we have taken note. You people have always hidden your head in the sand until now. You’ve tried for a week to whip up commotion about Biafrans coming over to help Ambasonians and since no one fell for your anntics, you have logically moved on to the next divide and rule tactic. We are taking note of those who celebrate when soldiers engage in running battles with people whose taxes provide them with the guns they carry. You are doing irreparable damage to the relationship between Anglophones and Bamilekes, I know your handlers have instructed you to do so, but remember war will one day come to an end.