South Africa’s president clings to power as deadline to resign looms
Chesnot/Getty Images(CAPE TOWN, South Africa) — South African President Jacob Zuma is refusing to resign after being recalled by the ruling African National Congress (ANC) on Tuesday amid allegations of fraud and misuse of taxpayer funds.
If parliament votes against him in a motion of “no confidence” set for Thursday, the embattled president said, “I will be out.”
Zuma’s comment in a live interview on state broadcaster SABC suggested that he will not obey the ruling party’s order to leave office by the end of Wednesday.
The ANC said it will move to oust Zuma in the parliamentary vote of “no confidence” if he does not resign voluntarily.
Zuma told the SABC that he disagrees with his party’s efforts to remove him and claimed that he has been “victimized.” He has said he is willing to resign, but wanted to stay in office for a few more months.
He said he plans to make a statement later.
The ANC recalled Zuma on Tuesday, but did not give him a firm deadline. On Wednesday, Paul Mashatile, the party’s treasurer general, clarified that he has to leave office or face a motion of “no confidence” in parliament on Thursday.
The ANC parliamentary caucus met earlier Wednesday and agreed to table a motion of “no confidence” against Zuma on Thursday. Mashatile addressed the group.
“I have now reported to the caucus that the [National Executive Committee of ANC] has decided to recall President Zuma and the deadline [for Zuma to resign] is today,” Mashatile told journalists after addressing the caucus in Parliament.
“We have now asked the chief whip to proceed with the motion of ‘no confidence’ tomorrow,” he continued, “so that President Zuma is then removed, so that we can then proceed to elect President [Cyril] Ramaphosa.”
The ANC has applied for an amendment of an opposition party’s motion of “no confidence,” which effectively means that the party will now “own” the motion.
The party’s chief whip, Jackson Mthembu, added that the ANC hoped to elect party leader Cyril Ramaphosa as president of the country on Thursday after the “no confidence” vote or on Friday.
Zuma stands accused of more than 780 charges of fraud, money laundering and racketeering related to an arms-deal scandal. Although he has consistently denied these charges, prosecutors are gearing up to reinstate them. The beleaguered president was also found by the highest court in South Africa to have failed in his duty to uphold, defend and respect the country’s constitution after improvements to his private homestead were made with taxpayers’ money.
Mashatile said the issues did not come up during the caucus meeting.
According to the ANC, the State of the Nation Address (SONA), which was postponed indefinitely last week, could take place on Feb. 16, the debate on the SONA on Feb. 19 and the budget speech will go ahead as planned on Feb. 21.
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