South African Pres­i­dent Zuma re­signs in tele­vised ad­dress


JO­HAN­NES­BURG — South African Pres­i­dent Ja­cob Zuma re­signed on Wed­nes­day in a tele­vised ad­dress to the na­tion, avoid­ing his al­most cer­tain ouster in a par­lia­men­tary vote sched­uled for Thurs­day after years of cor­rup­tion scan­dals.

Zuma’s res­ig­na­tion came after the rul­ing African Na­tional Congress party in­structed him to leave o ce by the end of Wed­nes­day or face the mo­tion of no con­fi­dence in par­lia­ment. His de­par­ture ended a lead­er­ship cri­sis in one of Africa’s big­gest economies and set the stage for rul­ing party law­mak­ers to elect act­ing pres­i­dent Cyril Ramaphosa, pre­vi­ously deputy pres­i­dent, as Zuma’s suc­ces­sor.

“I have there­fore come to the de­ci­sion to re­sign as pres­i­dent of the repub­lic with im­me­di­ate ef­fect,” said Zuma, who added that he took the de­ci­sion even though he dis­agreed with the rul­ing party’s de­mand that he quit. Zuma, 75, had said he was will­ing to re­sign but wanted to stay in o ce for sev­eral more months.

“Of course, I must ac­cept that if my party and my com­pa­tri­ots wish that I be re­moved from of­fice, they must ex­er­cise that right and do so in the man­ner pre­scribed by the con­sti­tu­tion,” Zuma said.

The for­mer pres­i­dent was de­fi­ant in a tele­vi­sion interview ear­lier Wed­nes­day, say­ing he had done noth­ing wrong.

“I’m be­ing vic­tim­ized here,” Zuma told state broad­caster SABC. He com­plained that Ramaphosa and other ANC lead­ers had not given him clear rea­sons about why he should go.

“I need to be fur­nished on what I’ve done,” Zuma said in the interview. On Wed­nes­day morn­ing, po­lice raided the home of prom­i­nent busi­ness as­so­ciates of Zuma who are ac­cused of be­ing at the cen­ter of cor­rup­tion scan­dals that have in­fu­ri­ated the coun­try, hurt the ANC’s pop­u­lar­ity and weak­ened the econ­omy. An elite po­lice unit en­tered the com­pound of the Gupta fam­ily, which has been ac­cused of using its con­nec­tions to the pres­i­dent to in­flu­ence Cabi­net ap­point­ments and win state con­tracts. The Gup­tas deny any wrong­do­ing. Sev­eral peo­ple were ar­rested dur­ing po­lice op­er­a­tions, South African me­dia re­ported.

The ANC, which has led South Africa since the end of white mi­nor­ity rule in 1994, had wanted Zuma to end his sec­ond five-year term early so that it could build up sup­port ahead of 2019 elec­tions.

“We can no longer keep South Africa wait­ing,” said Paul Mashatile, the ANC’s trea­surer gen­eral. Ramaphosa, elected as the ANC’s new leader in De­cem­ber, has said the gov­ern­ment will do more to fight the cor­rup­tion that has dam­aged the ANC.

As the Gupta-linked in­ves­ti­ga­tion pro­ceeds, Zuma also could face cor­rup­tion charges tied to an arms deal two decades ago. South Africa’s chief prose­cu­tor is ex­pected to make a de­ci­sion on whether to pros­e­cute Zuma on the old charges, which were re­in­stated last year after be­ing thrown out in 2009.

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 funds. He paid back some of the money.

South African Pres­i­dent Ja­cob Zuma ad­dresses the na­tion and press at the gov­ern­ment’s Union Build­ings in Pre­to­ria, South Africa on Wed­nes­day. South Africa’s Pres­i­dent Ja­cob Zuma says he will re­sign with im­me­di­ate e ect. AP PHOTO/THEMBA HADEBE

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