Breaking News: South African Jacob Zuma steps down
The clock was ticking on President Jacob Zuma’s presidency; the Sunday Times reported that the newly-elected deputy president of the African National Congress (ANC) David Mabuza held talks with the resigned South African president on Saturday and to avoid any ouster, three days after, Zuma has decided to unseat himself.
In an emotion-filled, nationally televised speech this evening, the culmination of months of pressure amidst immediate protest and concerns from his own party officials to remove him from office, Zuma said the newly elected leader of ANC, Cyril Ramaphosa would be sworn in to succeed him at noon on Wednesday, 10 January, 2018. “The leadership of South Africa will be in good hands,” Zuma said, his voice wavering.
The President referred only briefly to the political wrangling and scandal that have befallen on his administration currently.
The newly-elected deputy president of the African National Congress (ANC) David Mabuza said Zuma was no longer the “right person” to lead the country.
Anti-apartheid struggle veterans had also called on the African National Congress (ANC) to recall the president.
Mr Zuma has been under growing pressure following a major cabinet reshuffle and economic crisis.
It’s believed this has led to South Africa’s credit rating being cut to junk status putting more pressure on a troubled economy.
His decision to resign his administration is presumed to eschew any brink of certain impeachment that might result in possible removal from office.
“I would have preferred to carry through to the finish, whatever the personal agony it would have involved, and my family unanimously urged me to do so. But the interest of the nation must always come before any personal considerations.”
Zuma concluded the 10-minute address with no good day, just a prayer:
“May God’s grace be with you all in the days ahead.” With this, Zuma ended his career in South African politics.
He also alleged to have ended an unprecedented constitutional crisis, coupled with corruption and taxation flaws that had divided and crippled the nation financially and dangerously slowed the work of government and compelling some prominent figures in his administration planning to resign with immediate effect.
“As we look to the future, the first essential is to begin healing the wounds of this nation,” Zuma said, “to put the bitterness and divisions of the recent past behind us and to discover the shared deals that lie at the heart of our strength and unity as a great and as a free people.”
Zuma did not directly mention Ramaphosa and Malema’s increasingly loud cries for his resignation.
Most of the demands had come from African National Congress espcially during his meeting with deputy president of the African National Congress (ANC) David Mabuza on Saturday.
But he did concede that he had decided to resign when it became evident to him that he no longer has sufficient political base from his own people to continue” in office.
“From the discussions I have had with congressional and other leaders on Saturday, I have concluded that because of the constitutional and economic crisis, I might not have the support of the Congress that I would consider necessary to back the very difficult decision to carry out the duties of this office in the way the interests of the nation would require,” he said.
“I have never been a quitter,”-Zuma said “to leave office before my term is completed is abhorrent to every instinct in my body. But as a President, I must put the interest in South Africa first. South Africa needs a full-time President and a full-time Congress, particularly at this time when we have new ANC’s leader, with the problems we face at home and abroad.”
“To continue to fight through the months ahead for my personal vindication,” he said, would have absorbed the time of both the President and Congress when their “entire focus should be on the great issues of peace abroad and prosperity without inflation at home.”
Although he had been under enormous strain, particularly just after the recent ANC’s presidential election – the President was described by an aide as “unbelievably serene” this evening before his speech.
Aside from a voice that occasionally faltered, he appeared in firm command of himself during his televised speech.
“This is one of the numerous gracious times I have spoken to you from this office,” Zuma said as he opened what was to be the most momentous speech of his entire career in South African politics. “In all the decisions, I have made in my public life, I have always tried to do what was best for the nation.”
“For more than a quarter-century in public life,” he said, “I have shared in the turbulent history of this era. I have fought for what I believe in. I have tried to the best of my ability to discharge those duties and meet those responsibilities that were entrusted in me. Sometimes, I might have succeeded, and sometimes I might have failed.”
In what was almost a cry from the heart – perhaps the closest to it that this most private of public men had ever uttered – Zuma said that he was leaving with “great sadness” the pinnacle that he sought for most of his adult years. It was a pinnacle whose prerogatives he clearly relished.
But on this, his most tragic day, Zuma showed no self-pity, nor did he assail his foes with the harsh recriminations that had become his trademark since he first ran for office.
Instead, he sought to emphasize the accomplishments of his years in office.
He expressed the hope that his resignation would hasten “the process of healing which is so desperately needed in South Africa.”
He called on South Africans to rally behind Cyril Ramaphosa to give him “help and support” to bring the nation together.
“To those who have stood with me during these past difficult months, to my family, my friends, to many other who joined in supporting my cause because they believed it was right, I will be eternally grateful for your support.” Zuma said.
“And to those who have not felt able to give me your support, let me say I leave with no bitterness toward those who have opposed me, because all of us, in the final analysis, have been concerned with the good of the country, however our judgements might differ.” Zuma concluded.