Some of President Zuma’s fiercest political foes came from his own ANC party. And amid the euphoria of his departure, the realisation that his successor Cyril Ramaphosa has a hard road ahead.
Ramaphosa became part of a group tasked with moving South Africa to democracy in 1990 after Mandela was released from 27 years in prison.
He said the opposition’s call for government to tackle corruption and state capture was “on our radar screen”.
Ramaphosa, he said, will be “walking a tightrope, balancing the competing priorities of holding his party together while avoiding economic disaster”.
Party strategists wanted Zuma to be sidelined as quickly as possible to allow the ANC to regroup before campaigning starts for elections in 2019.
His death was confirmed by a senior official in his Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) party.
Zuma’s resignation followed two weeks of turmoil in the ruling party in which he had refused to step down after being asked to do so by top leaders of the ANC.
Zwane’s speech to Mining Indaba this month did not mention the botched new mining charter nor give any indication of a plan for mining’s place in the South African economy. The ANC wants parliament to vote Thursday on a motion of no confidence if he doesn’t resign Wednesday.
None of the opposition parties nominated a candidate.
Ramaphosa was elected by the parliament without a vote in Cape Town, the legislative capital. Zimbabwe’s Robert Mugabe only resigned when parliament was about to vote on his impeachment.
Prior to the emergence of the ANC leader, Zuma’s reign has been plagued with scandal following widespread allegations of corruption leveled against him.
But eight other suspects did appear in court on Thursday on fraud and money laundering charges, local media report. It began with early morning police raids and arrests at the Johannesburg home of his close associates, the wealthy, Indian-born Gupta family.
Zuma, whose reputation has been stained by years-long allegations of graft, complained that the ANC party had never explained to him why he had to leave office.
However, Ramaphosa was anxious that pushing Zuma out as president could cause divisions in the party and incur the wrath of Zuma’s KwaZulu-Natal support base. Zuma has denied wrongdoing.
“The key point from a credit perspective will be the new leadership’s response to the country’s economic and fiscal challenges and progress in implementing reforms addressing them”, it said.
Parliament is set to elect a new president Thursday afternoon.
He is a former trade unionist and Mandela ally who led talks to end apartheid in the early 1990s and then became a multi-millionaire businessman before returning to politics.
The BBC reports that Zuma made the announcement in a televised address to the nation on Wednesday evening.
The chaotic political crisis of recent days has further damaged the ANC, and angered many South Africans who are increasingly impatient with the party’s opaque internal procedures.
The African National Congress is expressing gratitude for Zuma’s “loyal service” and is encouraging party members to support Cyril Ramaphosa, who is now the country’s acting president.
The scribe of the ANC, Ace Magashule, had told a news conference that Zuma would respond by Wednesday on the decision to “recall” him.
“For the first time in nearly a decade, South Africans can rejoice that the sun has set on the Zuma era”.