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Jacob Zuma resigns as South Africa's president

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acob Zuma resigns as South Africa's president
Jason Burke Africa correspondent
Wed 14 Feb 2018 16.08 ESTLast modified on Wed 14 Feb 2018 16.53 EST
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Jacob Zuma steps down after defying ANC orders to leave office – video
Jacob Zuma, the president of South Africa, has resigned after days of defying orders from the ruling African National Congress to leave office and on the eve of a no-confidence vote in parliament.
In a televised address to the nation late on Wednesday, the 75-year-old said he was a disciplined member of the ANC, to which he had dedicated his life.
“I fear no motion of no confidence or impeachment … I will continue to serve the people of South Africa and the ANC. I will dedicate my life to continuing to work for the execution of the policies of our organisation,” Zuma said.
“No life should be lost in my name. The ANC should never been divided in my name. I have therefore come to the decision to resign as president of the republic with immediate effect.”
The resignation ended an extraordinary day in South African politics, which had begun with a dawn raid on a business family at the centre of the recent corruption allegations levelled at Zuma.
At noon, ANC officials announced they would vote for an opposition party’s no-confidence motion in parliament on Thursday.
Late in the afternoon, Zuma gave an angry and rambling TV interview to justify his refusal to obey his own party’s order to step down.
But his speech was more confident and warm.
The president started with a joke with journalists about the late hour, and his trademark chuckle. He expressed his gratitude to the ANC and South Africans for the privilege of serving them at the “pinnacle” of public life, before saying thank you and goodbye in three local languages.
Zuma’s resignation leaves the path clear for deputy president, Cyril Ramaphosa, who took over the leadership of the ANC in December, to be elected by parliament to the highest office.
Zuma, a former anti-apartheid activist who has led the ANC since 2007 and been South Africa’s president since 2009, was due to leave power next year.
His tenure has been marred by economic decline and multiple charges of graft that have undermined the image and legitimacy of the party that led South Africans to freedom in 1994.
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The chaotic political crisis of recent days has further damaged the ANC, and angered many South Africans who are increasingly impatient with the party’s opaque internal procedures.
Ramaphosa won a bitterly fought internal election in December and is seen as the standard bearer of the party’s reformist wing.
Party strategists wanted Zuma to be sidelined as quickly as possible to allow the ANC to regroup before campaigning starts for elections in 2019.
The party suffered significant setbacks at municipal polls in 2016 and could be forced into a coalition government at the national level, experts say.
As president, Ramaphosa will have to balance the need to reassure foreign investors and local businesses against the intense popular demand for dramatic measures to address South Africa’s deep problems.
The 65-year-old former trade union leader has said South Africa is coming out of a “period of uncertainty, a period of darkness, and getting into a new phase”.
Richard Calland, an expert in South African politics at the University of Cape Town, said the departure of Zuma from office would give Ramaphosa “the chance to rebuild government and the party at the same time”.
In recent days, the rand has strengthened and many analysts have revised upwards their predictions of South Africa’s economic growth.
Following Zuma’s address on Wednesday night, the ANC immediately closed ranks.
Jessy Duarte, the party’s deputy secretary general, told reporters that the ANC was “not celebrating” at a “very painful moment”.
Duarte said: “Having taken the difficult decision to recall Comrade Zuma, the ANC nonetheless salutes the outstanding contribution he has made and expresses its profound gratitude to him for the role he has played in the ANC over 60 years of loyal service.”
 

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South Africa Parliament Elects Ramaphosa to Succeed Zuma
By Anita Powell
February 15, 2018

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Newly-elected President of South Africa Cyril Ramaphosa addresses lawmakers in parliament, in Cape Town, South Africa, Feb. 15, 2018.

Less than 24 hours after Jacob Zuma's late-night resignation, South Africa has a new president: Cyril Ramaphosa, a successful businessman and stalwart of the African National Congress party, who was instrumental in the push to force Zuma to resign.

Ramaphosa was sworn in Thursday in Cape Town, after he was nominated in parliament without opposition.

The occasion came just over 12 hours after Zuma's sudden concession to his party's mounting insistence that he step down before his term officially ends in mid-2019.

Ramaphosa, who spent the last four years as deputy president under Zuma and who recently took over from Zuma as president of the ANC, immediately launched a charm offensive on the usually fractious house. He pledged to work with the nation's many opposition parties, and to remember his place – a stark contrast to his predecessor's combative nature.

"And I will do this as a servant of the people," he said. "Because I do believe that when one is elected, you basically become a servant of the people of South Africa. And I will seek to execute that task with humility, with faithfulness and with dignity as well. That is what I will seek to do."

Those comments generated applause from lawmakers. But not all parties were present. Before nominations began, the far-left Economic Freedom Fighters party walked out, because the party argues that parliament should be dissolved and snap elections be held to replace Zuma.

Mmusi Maimane, leader of the Democratic Alliance, the largest opposition party, chastised Ramaphosa and his party for standing by Zuma amid his long-simmering corruption scandals, and also called for early elections.

"We don't have a Jacob Zuma problem, we have an ANC problem," Maimane said "...This is a moment in our country where we must move Section 50 and go back to the people of South Africa and ask them for a fresh mandate, so that we can bring a new beginning to South Africa."

He also had a message for the new president: "Mr. Ramaphosa, I wish you strength, but know: we will hold you accountable and I will see you in 2019 on the ballot box."

Ramaphosa will deliver his first state of the nation address Friday, a speech that Zuma was supposed to give earlier this month. The sudden cancellation of that address signaled the beginning of the end of Zuma's controversial nine-year presidency, leading to his own party recalling him earlier this week, and nearly ending with what would have been an embarrassing no-confidence in parliament.

Ramaphosa has acknowledged that he faces many challenges in his new role. These include cleaning up years of alleged corruption in his own party, trying to reduce the economic inequality that persists nearly three decades after the end of apartheid -- and holding on to his new job when the nation holds elections in 2019.

But on this, the first day of his presidency, he – and many lawmakers, from all sides – were hopeful, and grateful to be at the cusp of a new era for the Rainbow Nation.

"Thank you all for this great opportunity that I've been given," he said. "I will try to work very hard not to disappoint the people of South Africa."

https://www.voanews.com/a/cyril-ramaphosa-set-to-be-south-africa-president/4255612.html
 
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