The African National Congress, South Africa’s ruling party, on Tuesday announced that it has decided to remove President Jacob Zuma from the post.
The party’s Secretary General Ace Magashule said its current chief and Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa will take over the presidency and deliver the “State of the Nation” address. The party made the decision after an eight-hour meeting on Monday, he added.
“There is only one centre of power, and it is the African National Congress,” Magashule said at a press conference in Johannesburg. Zuma, who had earlier defied the party’s call to step down within 48 hours, is likely to respond on Wednesday.
“The decision of the ANC’s National Executive Committee to recall Comrade Zuma is final,” Magashule told reporters. “It cannot and will not change. We will treat Comrade Zuma with dignity and we will not humiliate him.”
Magashule, who met Zuma along with Ramaphosa on Monday night, said that the president had beseeched them to reconsider the time frame for the transition, especially considering the challenges that the party was facing. Zuma asked for three to six months, he said. However, they told Zuma that the party cannot wait that long and that Ramaphosa needs to take over quickly to ensure a smooth transition, Magashule added.
The leader of the Opposition Democratic Alliance party Mmusi Maimane, however, claimed that only Parliament can recall Zuma. “This recall is an internal ANC resolution, and nothing more,” he said. “It has no effect on Jacob Zuma’s current status as President of the Republic, and can be simply ignored by Zuma.”
The ANC, however, is reportedly not likely to support a no-confidence motion moved by the Opposition parties.
Zuma has been accused, among other things, of using government money to build a luxurious private home. Under his rule, economic growth slowed down and unemployment reached record low levels.
While Zuma continues to deny any wrongdoing, he has been facing a major challenge ever since Ramaphosa was elected in December 2017 to succeed him as the leader of the African National Congress. The leader of the ANC, which has ruled South Africa since the end of apartheid, is considered the most powerful person in the country.
Soon after Ramaphosa took over, analysts pointed out he was likely to recall Zuma from presidency.