Prez told to re­sign

Zuma given un­til Wed­nes­day to an­nounce res­ig­na­tion or be re­moved from power

Kingston Whig-Standard - - WORLD NEWS - CHRISTO­PHER TORCHIA

JO­HAN­NES­BURG — South Africa’s rul­ing party on Tues­day dis­owned Pres­i­dent Ja­cob Zuma af­ter stick­ing with him through years of scan­dals, or­der­ing him to re­sign in an at­tempt to re­solve a lead­er­ship cri­sis that has dis­rupted gov­ern­ment busi­ness in one of Africa’s big­gest economies.

The an­nounce­ment by the African Na­tional Congress did not im­me­di­ately end the pro­tracted tur­moil in a party that was the main move­ment against white mi­nor­ity rule and has led South Africa since apartheid ended in 1994. If the po­lit­i­cally iso­lated pres­i­dent de­fies the party’s or­der, the mat­ter could go to par­lia­ment for a mo­tion of no con­fi­dence that would fur­ther em­bar­rass the party once led by Nel­son Man­dela.

Ace Ma­gashule, the ANC’s sec­re­tary-gen­eral, said he ex­pected Zuma to re­ply to the di­rec­tive on Wed­nes­day. An­other se­nior party of­fi­cial sug­gested that Zuma would be un­wise to flout the edict of the party, which is ea­ger to re­cover from in­ter­nal dis­ar­ray ahead of 2019 elec­tions.

“A dis­ci­plined cadre of the ANC, you are given a chance to re­sign on your own, but if you lack dis­ci­pline you will re­sist,” party chair­man Gwede Man­tashe said at a provin­cial rally, ac­cord­ing to South African me­dia.

“Once you re­sist, we are go­ing to let you be thrown out through the vote of no con­fi­dence be­cause you dis­re­spect the or­ga­ni­za­tion and you dis­obey it, there­fore we are go­ing to let you be de­voured by the vul­tures,” Man­tashe said.

Busi­ness lead­ers wel­comed the ANC’s de­ci­sion to re­call Zuma, say­ing the coun­try needs to fo­cus on eco­nomic growth and ad­dress so­cial prob­lems such as un­em­ploy­ment.

ANC lead­ers must act “swiftly, but con­sti­tu­tion­ally” to re­move Zuma so the “work of re­cov­er­ing our fu­ture, which was im­per­iled by his ru­inous regime — char­ac­ter­ized by in­com­pe­tence, cor­rup­tion, state cap­ture and low eco­nomic growth — can be­gin in earnest,” said Bo­nang Mo­hale, CEO of Busi­ness Lead­er­ship South Africa, a group that pro­motes de­vel­op­ment.

“State cap­ture” is a term used in South Africa to de­scribe the al­leged loot­ing of state en­ter­prises by as­so­ciates of Zuma, who de­nies any wrong­do­ing.

A ju­di­cial com­mis­sion is about to start a probe of those al­le­ga­tions. Separately, Zuma could face cor­rup­tion charges tied to an arms deal two decades ago.

The main op­po­si­tion party, the Demo­cratic Al­liance, said Tues­day that it had been in­formed by the chief pros­e­cu­tor that his team will pro­vide its rec­om­men­da­tion on Feb. 23 about whether to pros­e­cute Zuma on the old charges. The charges had been thrown out but the op­po­si­tion fought suc­cess­fully to get them re­in­stated.

In an­other scan­dal, South Africa’s top court ruled in 2016 that Zuma vi­o­lated the con­sti­tu­tion fol­low­ing an in­ves­ti­ga­tion of multi-mil­lion-dol­lar up­grades to his pri­vate home us­ing state money.

“We are de­ter­mined to re­store the in­tegrity of the public in­sti­tu­tions, cre­ate po­lit­i­cal sta­bil­ity and ur­gent eco­nomic re­cov­ery,” said Ma­gashule, once a staunch sup­porter of Zuma.

The ANC sec­re­tary-gen­eral spoke re­spect­fully of Zuma, say­ing he had “not been found guilty by any court of law” and that the de­ci­sion to re­call him was not taken be­cause he had done “any­thing wrong.”

Zuma had agreed to re­sign and wanted to stay in of­fice for sev­eral more months, but the na­tional ex­ec­u­tive com­mit­tee de­cided at a 13-hour meet­ing that he had to leave at once, Ma­gashule said.

The ANC said it wants Zuma to be re­placed by Deputy Pres­i­dent Cyril Ramaphosa, who was elected party leader in De­cem­ber and has vowed to fight cor­rup­tion.

Zuma, who took of­fice in 2009 and is in his sec­ond five-year term, has not made any public ap­pear­ances in re­cent days.

Gov­ern­ment lead­ers hope the stand­off can be re­solved ahead of the un­veil­ing of the na­tional bud­get in par­lia­ment on Feb. 21, which would go some way to­ward re­as­sur­ing in­vestors that the coun­try is get­ting back on track. Zuma did not give the state of the na­tion ad­dress last week be­cause of the po­lit­i­cal cri­sis, and a reg­u­lar cabi­net meet­ing sched­uled for Wed­nes­day has been post­poned.

AFP/GETTY IM­AGES

South African Pres­i­dent Ja­cob Zuma has been or­dered to re­sign his post by the rul­ing African Na­tional Congress or face a vote of no con­fi­dence and be re­moved from power.

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