South Africa’s Zuma ordered to resign
JOHANNESBURG — South Africa’s ruling party on Tuesday disowned President Jacob Zuma after sticking with him through years of scandals, ordering him to resign in an attempt to resolve a leadership crisis that has disrupted government business in one of Africa’s biggest economies.
The announcement by the African National Congress did not immediately end the turmoil in a party that was the main movement against white minority rule and has led South Africa since apartheid ended in 1994. If the politically isolated president defies the party’s order, the matter could go to parliament for a motion of no confidence, which would further embarrass the party once led by Nelson Mandela.
Ace Magashule, the ANC’s secretary-general, said he expected Mr. Zuma to reply to the directive on Wednesday. Another senior party official suggested that Mr. Zuma would be unwise to flout the edict of the party, which is eager to recover from internal disarray ahead of 2019 elections.
“A disciplined cadre of the ANC, you are given a chance to resign on your own, but if you lack discipline you will resist,” party chairman Gwede Mantashe said at a provincial rally, according to South African media.
“Once you resist, we are going to let you be thrown out through the vote of no confidence because you disrespect the organization and you disobey it, therefore we are going to let you be devoured by the vultures,” Mr. Mantashe said.
Business leaders welcomed the ANC’s decision to recall Mr. Zuma, saying the country needs to focus on economic growth and address social problems such as unemployment.
ANC leaders must act “swiftly, but constitutionally” to remove Mr. Zuma so the “work of recovering our future, which was imperiled by his ruinous regime — characterized by incompetence, corruption, state capture and low economic growth — can begin in earnest,” said Bonang Mohale, CEO of Business Leadership South Africa, a group that promotes development.
“State capture” is a term used in South Africa to describe the alleged looting of state enterprises by associates of Mr. Zuma, who denies any wrongdoing.
A judicial commission is about to start a probe of those allegations. Separately, Mr. Zuma could face corruption charges tied to an arms deal two decadesago.
The main opposition party, the Democratic Alliance, said Tuesday that it had been informed by the chief prosecutor that his team will provide its recommendation on Feb. 23 about whether to prosecute Mr. Zuma on the old charges. The charges had been thrown out but the opposition fought successfully to get them reinstated.
Mr. Zuma had agreed to resign and wanted to stay in office for several more months, but the national executive committee decided at a 13-hour meeting that he had to leave at once, Mr. Magashule said.