Jacob Zuma has resigned as president of South Africa.
After days of intense pressuring by his own African National Congress (ANC), Jacob Zuma has stepped down as president of South Africa, effective immediately. The decision came after an earlier announcement in which Zuma complained of unfair treatment and seemed to suggest he would hold on to power as long as possible, despite a no-confidence vote scheduled in Parliament on Thursday. The ANC had said it would support the no-confidence measure and hopes to elect Cyril Ramaphosa, party leader and Deputy President, as president in the day or two after Zuma’s ouster.
Zuma, who was elected president in 2009, faces a laundry list of corruption charges. These include allegations of graft, “more than 780 of which relate to a 1990s arms deal alone,” as CNN reports. Zuma’s relationship with the powerful Gupta family, too – who are themselves embroiled in multiple corruption scandals – has severely damaged his popularity and left him open to charges of corruption. In fact, as the Washington Post reports, earlier today, “an elite police unit raided a Johannesburg compound” that belongs to the Guptas, in what some interpret as a warning to Zuma.
The sagging South African economy – the unemployment rate is an eye-popping 26.7 percent – is another reason that party leaders are anxious to see Zuma go ahead of 2019 elections.
On Monday, Zuma was asked to resign from office immediately but he refused, countering with an offer to leave if allowed to oversee a three-to-six-month power transition period.
Smart read: This explainer from Rachel Elbaum and Alastair Jamieson on the challenges that Ramaphosa faces.
The ANC has been seeking a fresh start since 2016, when it lost 15 seats in the National Assembly in its worst election showing since 1994, when Nelson Mandela’s election brought the party to power. Cyril Ramaphosa, the party leader and presumed president-to-be, is a protégé of Mandela’s, according to Axios, and the “lead negotiator in the talks that ended apartheid.” In the post-apartheid era, Ramaphosa bought stakes in various industries and amassed a lot of wealth: according to BBC, he has a net worth of $450 million, enough to make him one of the country’s richest politicians.
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