President Jacob Zuma of South Africa, has finally agreed to step down following weeks of pressure from his ruling African National Congress who were threatening to issue a vote of no confidence against him.
In a statement broadcast live on state television on Wednesday South Africa’s third president after the end of apartheid announced that he was quitting the presidency but will devote the rest of his life serving his country and party constructively.
Zuma had appeared on television earlier on Wednesday, appearing to reject calls by his ANC to resign saying it was unfair.
His resignation paves the way for Cyril Ramaphosa to take over the presidency.
Ramaphosa had been elected ANC leader in December over Zuma’s favourite candidate Nkosazanna Dlamini-Zuma to replace him at the head of Africa’s oldest political organization.
The ANC parliamentary caucus has been preparing to table a motion of no confidence against President Zuma on Thursday as the country’s succession crisis came to a head earlier on Wednesday.
The announcement follows a special meeting of the ANC MPs on Wednesday, which was addressed by ANC Treasury General Paul Mashatile to communicate the decision of the party to recall the president.
It follows his refusal to resign from office despite the ANC’s decision to recall him.
“The NEC of the ANC decided to recall President Zuma and the deadline is today (Wednesday). We are now proceeding and we have asked the Chief Whip to proceed with the Motion of No Confidence tomorrow in Parliament” Mashatile said.
The governing party had given Zuma an option to resign but he has indicated that he would not accede to this “unfair” call because he had “done nothing wrong.”
The motion of no confidence would pave the way for the governing party to elect ANC president and Deputy South African President Cyril Ramaphosa as the new head of state, Mashatile said.
Mashatile said the parliamentary processes will have to move with speed in anticipation that the new president will probably have to deliver the State of the Nation Address (SONA) by Friday before the budget which is scheduled for Wednesday next week.
The SONA, scheduled for last Thursday, had to be postponed due to the current debate of Zuma’s unstable status as the country’s leader following what was described as the now failed leadership “transition talks”.
Mashatile added: “We cannot wait any longer than today. We can’t continue waiting. The decision of tabling a no
confidence motion was taken and it must be implemented”.
ANC chief whip in parliament, Jackson Mthembu, emphasized that depending on the availability of the Chief Justice, Deputy President Ramaphosa could be inaugurated as President by Thursday after Zuma’s removal in the House vote.
“The sooner these matters are dealt with, the better” Mthembu said.