S. Africa’s ruling party decides to remove president

Ruling African National Congress says criminal charges against president has nothing to do with party’s decision

By Hassan Isilow

South Africa’s ruling party on Tuesday announced it has made a decision to remove Jacob Zuma as president of the country.

Speaking to reporters at the headquarters of the ruling African National Congress (ANC) in Johannesburg, Ace Magashule, the party’s secretary general, said he went to Zuma’s home on Monday night to deliver the party’s message.

He said Zuma had earlier asked that he be given three to six months before he resigns from the office because he is the chairman of the Southern African Development community (SADC), a bloc of 15 member states.

The national executive committee did not agree to Zuma’s demand, Magashule said, and added the country was facing uncertainty and anxiety as a result of his delayed resignation.

“The national executive committee firmly believes that this situation requires us to act with urgency in order to steer our country towards greater levels of unity, renewal and hope,” he said.

Pressure has been piling on Zuma to step down since his deputy Cyril Ramaphosa was elected party leader in December 2017.

The ANC denies allegations that his impending criminal charges have anything to do with the party’s decision to remove him.

“We should treat Zuma as president of South Africa, he has not been found guilty by any court,” Magashule said, referring to the 783 criminal charges linked to a government arms deal procurement program in 1999.

Magashule said the ANC has not given Zuma any time frame to respond to the party’s decision. “But we expect him to respond to us by tomorrow,” He said.

Some members of Zuma’s ANC also believe he has become a liability to the party and could cost them votes in the 2019 general election if he is not removed early from office.

Meanwhile, opposition parties have been calling for a motion of no-confidence against the 75-year-old president, whose tenure in office has been marred by several allegations of corruption.

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