Zuma trig­gers cri­sis by re­fus­ing ANC’S exit or­der

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South Africa braced Tues­day for a ma­jor po­lit­i­cal show­down as scan­dal­tainted Pres­i­dent Ja­cob Zuma 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, AFP re­ported.

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 sec­re­tary gen­eral, 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 com­mit­tee mem­ber told AFP that Zuma’s re­sponse was “hog­wash” and that the pres­i­dent had asked for three more months in of­fice.

“We just felt he meant three months of loot­ing,” the source said, speak­ing on con­di­tion of anonymity as he con­firmed that the meet­ing had de­manded Zuma’s res­ig­na­tion.

The ANC – which was once led by anti-apartheid strug­gle leader Nel­son Man­dela – re­port­edly gave Zuma 48 hours to step down.

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 pres­i­dentin-wait­ing, has been in dead­locked ne­go­ti­a­tions with Zuma, who first dis­missed a re­quest from party lead­ers to re­sign more than a week ago.

The stale­mate has plunged South Africa – Africa’s most de­vel­oped econ­omy – into un­cer­tainty over who is run­ning the coun­try, with a se­ries of pub­lic events can­celled 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.

An op­po­si­tion re­quest for a no­con­fi­dence vote against Zuma, 75, this week was still be­ing con­sid­ered by the par­lia­men­tary speaker.


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