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South Africa’s ANC prepares to push out President Zuma after marathon meeting – The Washington Post

Despite persistent corruption allegations, Zuma has reportedly refused to step down.

 President Jacob Zuma’s fate hung in the balance on Tuesday morning following a grueling 13-hour meeting of African National Congress leaders over whether South Africa’s ruling party should order the embattled head of state to step down.

Pressure for Zuma, who is 75, to resign as president has been mounting since December, when Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa replaced him as head of the party.

Zuma came to power in 2009, but his last years in office have been mired in a series of high-profile corruption scandals and accusations of mismanagement that has seen a steady decline in the popularity of Nelson Mandela’s storied liberation movement.

Several local media outlets reported early Tuesday that the party’s national executive committee decided to recall the president, but that a defiant Zuma had refused to resign. The ANC has not yet made an official announcement on the meeting’s outcome, and said it would brief the press early afternoon on Tuesday.

If the party does indeed recall Zuma and he resigns, Ramaphosa would become acting president, according to South African law.

If he refuses to step down, the matter could go to a vote of no confidence in parliament. Should Zuma lose that motion, he and his cabinet would be forced to step down and the parliamentary speaker would assume the role of acting president, says Lawson Naidoo, executive secretary of the Council for the Advancement of the South African Constitution.

“The one thing we’ve learned is never to try to guess what Zuma might do,” said Naidoo. “He’s a desperate man at the moment.”

The extraordinary 24 hours follows a chaotic political week in South Africa, in which Ramaphosa and Zuma sat in closed-door talks to negotiate the terms of his exit. On Sunday, during a speech in Cape Town, Ramaphosa pledged that the party’s top brass would “finalize” those talks on Monday.

“Our people want this matter to be finalized, the national executive committee (NEC) will be doing precisely that,” Ramaphosa said. “It is the interests of you, our people, that must be put first, and not the interests of anyone else.”

To Zuma’s critics, the president’s early departure — his term as head of state is not up until national elections next year — would mark the end of a frustrating era in which the nation drifted and Zuma’s name has become nearly synonymous with the use of the public office for personal gain.

An anti-apartheid struggle veteran with a knack for connecting with his rural base, many South Africans welcomed Zuma’s election in 2009 after the technocratic government Thabo Mbeki.

Mbeki was recalled by the ANC after a court ruled he interfered in the work of government prosecutors, and he subsequently resigned from office.

But nearly a decade later, many of the promises of a better life in a democratic South Africa have slipped away on Zuma’s watch. The number of people living in poverty and extreme poverty both increased by some 3 million between 2011 and 2015. Unemployment hovers at more than 27 percent. The under-resourced public health and education sectors struggle to deliver to nearly 57 million South Africans, and the economy, one of the largest and most sophisticated in Africa, dipped briefly into recession last year.

South Africans have also become fed up with a series of corruption allegations engulfing Zuma and some of his family members and friends.

A wily political operator, Zuma has become the ultimate “Teflon president” in recent years, surviving several opposition-led attempts in parliament to unseat him. Opposition politicians have also been trying — unsuccessfully, so far — to get 18 charges of fraud, corruption and other crimes against him reinstated that were dropped before he became president. He has denied the charges.

Should Ramaphosa become the next president, many South Africans hope the 65-year-old businessman and anti-apartheid activist will put South Africa on a new path, taking on corruption and restoring the reputation of Africa’s oldest liberation movement.

“Leaders make a difference. It changes the atmosphere,” said William Gumede, executive chairman of the Democracy Works Foundation. “It potentially could be a kind of Mandela moment.”

Sorgente: South Africa’s ANC prepares to push out President Zuma after marathon meeting – The Washington Post

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