South Africa’s ANC to sack Zuma via par­lia­ment

Be­leagured pres­i­dent: I don’t think it’s fair • Po­lice raid home of al­lies, the Gupta broth­ers


JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) – South Africa’s ANC un­veiled plans on Wed­nes­day to fire Pres­i­dent Ja­cob Zuma via a par­lia­men­tary no-con­fi­dence vote, hours af­ter armed po­lice raided the lux­ury home of his friends, the Gupta broth­ers, as part of an an­ti­cor­rup­tion in­ves­ti­ga­tion.

In his first re­sponse to an avalanche of pres­sure from the African Na­tional Congress for him to quit, Zuma – who has been dogged by scan­dal through­out his po­lit­i­cal life – pro­claimed his in­no­cence and said he was be­ing “vic­tim­ized” by Nel­son Man­dela’s for­mer lib­er­a­tion move­ment.

“There’s noth­ing I’ve done wrong,” a re­laxed but in­dig­nant Zuma said dur­ing a nearly hour­long in­ter­view with the SABC, South Africa’s state broad­caster. “I don’t think it’s fair. I think it’s un­fair.”

When asked point-blank if would step aside, he avoided the ques­tion and con­tin­ued to al­lege a lack of prin­ci­ple in moves by the party’s Na­tional Ex­ec­u­tive Com­mit­tee to oust him. He did say he would make a for­mal state­ment later on Wed­nes­day.

He did not com­ment on the po­lice raids, which marked a dra­matic tight­en­ing of the net around the 75-year-old and the po­lit­i­cal fac­tion around him ac­cused of milk­ing state re­sources for their own ends.

Even if he re­fuses to quit, with the ANC back­ing an op­po­si­tion-led no-con­fi­dence mo­tion on Thurs­day, Zuma ap­pears to have run out of road af­ter nine years in of­fice marked by po­lit­i­cal tu­mult and eco­nomic stag­na­tion.

ANC chief whip Jack­son Mthembu said Deputy Pres­i­dent Cyril Ramaphosa, whose elec­tion as head of the ANC in De­cem­ber marked the be­gin­ning of the end of Zuma’s ten­ure, could be sworn in as head of state as early as Fri­day.

“Af­ter we have voted for the re­moval of the pres­i­dent of the Repub­lic to­mor­row – and de­pend­ing on the avail­abil­ity of the chief jus­tice – we will also elect a new pres­i­dent,” Mthembu told a news con­fer­ence in Cape Town.

The rand, which has gained ground when­ever Zuma has hit po­lit­i­cal tur­bu­lence, soared more than 1% to a two-and-ahalf-year high of 11.79 against the dol­lar.

More ar­rests

The speed of Zuma’s demise af­ter two weeks of dither­ing by the ANC has stunned South Africa.

The early morn­ing raid, which the po­lice’s elite Hawks unit said re­sulted in three ar­rests, took place amid re­ports Zuma was pre­par­ing to tell the coun­try he was step­ping down

The SABC, South Africa’s state broad­caster, said a Gupta fam­ily mem­ber was among those de­tained. A se­nior ju­di­cial source said po­lice ex­pected to ar­rest up to seven more peo­ple and that Gupta fam­ily mem­bers would be among them.

“You can’t bring a mat­ter of this na­ture to court and not charge the peo­ple who have ben­e­fited the most,” the source, who has knowl­edge of the po­lice’s moves, told Reuters.

Zuma and the Gup­tas, a fam­ily of wealthy In­dian-born busi­ness­men, deny any wrong­do­ing. A lawyer for the Gupta fam­ily said he could not com­ment on the raid be­cause he had yet to see the search war­rant.

Mean­while, there was chaos and con­fu­sion at Pretoria’s Union Build­ings, the of­fi­cial seat of gov­ern­ment, over re­ported plans for Zuma to ad­dress the coun­try.

Fi­nance Min­is­ter Malusi Gi­gaba had said Zuma would speak at 10 a.m. and satel­lite trucks were in po­si­tion overnight. How­ever, Zuma’s of­fice de­nied there had been any “of­fi­cial com­mu­ni­ca­tion” of an ad­dress and the sched­uled time came and went.

Adding to the mys­tery, a copy of an email, pur­port­edly from deputy pres­i­den­tial com­mu­ni­ca­tions di­rec­tor Shadi Baloyi, cir­cu­lated on Twit­ter telling Pretoria po­lice that plans for a “spe­cial me­dia brief­ing” by Zuma at 10 a.m. had been can­celed.

“Kindly ig­nore my ear­lier re­quest, as the brief­ing will not take place to­mor­row,” Baloyi wrote. Reuters could not con­firm the email’s au­then­tic­ity and Baloyi did not an­swer her phone or re­spond to text mes­sages.

Zuma’s spokesman did not an­swer his phone.

‘Crime scene’

Shortly af­ter dawn, a dozen Hawks po­lice of­fi­cers sealed off a street lead­ing to the Gupta man­sion in Johannesburg’s up­scale Sax­on­wold neigh­bor­hood. One blocked ac­cess to Reuters, say­ing: “This is a crime scene.”

Min­utes later, an un­marked po­lice van left the com­pound as res­i­dents ap­plauded po­lice of­fi­cers and hurled abuse at se­cu­rity guards for the Gup­tas, who have been ac­cused by South Africa’s top an­ti­cor­rup­tion watch­dog of in­flu­ence ped­dling and sway­ing the ap­point­ment of cab­i­net min­is­ters.

“Fi­nally some­thing is be­ing done about it. These guys must get out of our coun­try. They must leave us alone. They have done enough dam­age,” said Tessa Tur­vey, head of the lo­cal res­i­dents’ as­so­ci­a­tion, stand­ing out­side the com­pound’s iron gates.

Po­lice also raided the Gup­tas’ Oak­bay hold­ing com­pany in Johannesburg’s Sand­ton fi­nan­cial district, ac­cord­ing to a se­cu­rity guard out­side the build­ing.

On Tues­day, the ANC or­dered Zuma to step down as pres­i­dent of the coun­try, giv­ing him no firm dead­line but say­ing the party was sure he would com­ply and “re­spond” on Wed­nes­day.

Hawks spokesman Hang­wani Mu­laudzi said the raid was part of an in­ves­ti­ga­tion into in­flu­ence-ped­dling al­le­ga­tions that are also the fo­cus of a ju­di­cial in­quiry into wider cor­rup­tion in­volv­ing the Gup­tas, dubbed “state cap­ture” in lo­cal me­dia.

“We’re not play­ing around in terms of mak­ing sure that those who are re­spon­si­ble in the so-called state cap­ture, they take re­spon­si­bil­ity for it,” Mu­laudzi said.

He de­clined to give de­tails of what was seized or if the busi­ness premises of the Gup­tas, whose com­mer­cial em­pire stretches from min­ing to me­dia, would also be raided. Un­der South African law, sus­pects can­not be named un­til they ap­pear in court.

(James Oat­way/Reuters)

AFRICAN NA­TIONAL CONGRESS Sec­re­tary-Gen­eral Ace Ma­gashule and mem­bers of the ANC Na­tional Ex­ec­u­tive Com­mit­tee ad­dress a me­dia con­fer­ence in Johannesburg on Tues­day.

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