Zuma trig­gers cri­sis by re­fus­ing exit or­der

ANC in power strug­gle as it fails to ‘re­call’ pres­i­dent tainted by scan­dal

Global Times - - Front Page -

South Africa braced Tues­day for a ma­jor po­lit­i­cal show­down as scan­dal-tainted Pres­i­dent Ja­cob Zuma re­port­edly re­jected a di­rect or­der from the rul­ing ANC party to leave of­fice.

The power strug­gle over Zuma’s de­par­ture put the pres­i­dent at log­ger­heads with Cyril Ramaphosa, his ex­pected suc­ces­sor, who is the new head of the African Na­tional Congress.

The party’s pow­er­ful 107-mem­ber na­tional ex­ec­u­tive com­mit­tee (NEC) met for 13 hours at a ho­tel out­side Pretoria, and de­cided in the early hours of Tues­day to “re­call” Zuma from his post.

Ramaphosa and Ace Ma­gashule, the party’s sec­re­tary­gen­eral, had per­son­ally de­liv­ered a re­quest for Zuma to re­sign to the pres­i­dent’s of­fi­cial res­i­dence in Pretoria at about mid­night.

But Zuma “was very ar­ro­gant. He told them he was not go­ing any­where as he did noth­ing wrong,” an un­named ANC com­mit­tee mem­ber told the Mail and Guardian news­pa­per.

“He told them if the ANC is­sued a state­ment on its de­ci­sion to re­call him, he will re­tal­i­ate.”

An­other source told the Times Live web­site that Ramaphosa had pleaded with Zuma to leave of­fice, but Zuma had re­sponded “in no un­cer­tain terms” that he would not re­sign.

The ANC – which was once led by anti-apartheid strug­gle leader Nel­son Man­dela – re­port­edly dis­missed a re­quest by Zuma for a few more months in of­fice and in­stead gave him 48 hours to step down.

ANC of­fi­cials were not reach­able Tues­day morn­ing, but the party called a press con­fer­ence for 2:00pm at its head­quar­ters in Johannesburg.

The ANC can “re­call” the head of state, es­sen­tially forc­ing him to re­sign, but the process is a party-level in­struc­tion and he is un­der no con­sti­tu­tional obli­ga­tion to obey.

If he re­fuses, Zuma would then likely be ousted via a par­lia­men­tary vote of no-con­fi­dence within days.

Ramaphosa, the de-facto pres­i­dent-in-wait­ing, has been in dead­locked ne­go­ti­a­tions with Zuma, who dis­missed an ear­lier re­quest from party lead­ers to re­sign more than a week ago.

The stale­mate plunged South Africa – Africa’s most de­vel­oped econ­omy – into un­cer­tainty over who is run­ning the coun­try, with a se­ries of pub­lic events can­celed last week in­clud­ing the an­nual State of the Na­tion ad­dress to par­lia­ment.

“We know you want this mat­ter to be fi­nal­ized,” Ramaphosa, 65, told a party rally in Cape Town on Sun­day to loud cheers.

“We know you want clo­sure... Be­cause our peo­ple want this mat­ter to be fi­nal­ized, the NEC will be do­ing pre­cisely that.”

South African op­po­si­tion par­ties have called for early elec­tions as the ANC’s lead­er­ship bat­tle grinds on.

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