S. Africa leader bows to pres­sure to re­sign

Honolulu Star-Advertiser - - WORLD - By Norim­itsu Onishi

JOHANNESBURG >> Pres­i­dent Ja­cob Zuma of South Africa, a mas­ter tac­ti­cian who sur­vived a string of cor­rup­tion scan­dals and harsh court judg­ments dur­ing his nearly nine-year pres­i­dency, agreed on Wed­nes­day night to step down, re­pu­di­ated by the governing African Na­tional Congress Party, threat­ened by a no-con­fi­dence vote in Par­lia­ment, cor­nered by op­po­si­tion par­ties and aban­doned by mil­lions of vot­ers.

In an ad­dress to the na­tion Wed­nes­day night, Zuma said he was re­sign­ing even though he dis­agreed with the party’s de­ci­sion or­der­ing him to do so.

“I have there­fore come to the de­ci­sion to re­sign as pres­i­dent of the Re­pub­lic with im­me­di­ate ef­fect, even though I dis­agree with the de­ci­sion of the lead­er­ship of my or­ga­ni­za­tion,” he said at the end of a lengthy ad­dress on tele­vi­sion. “I have al­ways been a dis­ci­plined mem­ber of the ANC.”

It is a hu­mil­i­at­ing end for Zuma, an anti-apartheid hero who was im­pris­oned on Robben Is­land with Nel­son Man­dela and was once the ANC’s in­tel­li­gence chief.

Cyril Ramaphosa, the deputy pres­i­dent whose election as ANC leader in De­cem­ber set off a power strug­gle with Zuma, im­me­di­ately be­came act­ing pres­i­dent.

Ini­tially Zuma’s pres­i­dency in­spired hope in mil­lions of South Africans, es­pe­cially the poor­est. But, tainted by nu­mer­ous ac­cu­sa­tions of mis­con­duct, he came to sym­bol­ize the cor­rup­tion that flour­ished dur­ing his time in of­fice.

In­flu­ence-ped­dling in his ad­min­is­tra­tion was so wide­spread, ac­cord­ing to the na­tion’s for­mer pub­lic pro­tec­tor, that it be­came a form of state cap­ture in which Zuma’s busi­ness part­ners or friends steered govern­ment de­ci­sions in their per­sonal in­ter­est.

Ramaphosa is al­most cer­tain to be cho­sen by Par­lia­ment to­day to be­come the na­tion’s fifth pres­i­dent since the end of apartheid in 1994; all have been mem­bers of the ANC.

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