Zuma’s Party Prepares to Remove Him From Office

أخر تحديث : mercredi 14 février 2018 - 7:15
Zuma’s Party Prepares to Remove Him From Office

Facing increased pressure to resign as South Africa’s leader, President Jacob Zuma clung to power on Wednesday even as his party took steps to formally remove him and replace him with his deputy, Cyril Ramaphosa

Mr. Zuma’s nine-year presidency, which has been mired in scandals and accusations of widespread corruption in his government, appeared headed to an end over the next couple of days — possibly bringing to a close a prolonged crisis in South Africa and inside the continent’s oldest, most storied liberation party

In the latest in a series of extraordinary moments for his party, leaders of the African National Congress, which had long steadfastly stood behind Mr. Zuma, said Wednesday that they would move to remove him as president through a vote of no confidence on Thursday afternoon

Given the party’s dominance in Parliament and cooperation from the opposition, such a motion would almost certainly garner the simple majority needed to pass

Confident that the Zuma era was coming to an end, A.N.C. officials in Parliament made plans to then quickly install Mr. Ramaphosa as his successor and have him deliver on Friday the annual state of the nation address, which had been postponed amid the political crisis

Even so, Mr. Zuma remained defiant, saying he had done nothing wrong, and had been “victimized” by party leaders

Breaking his silence on the crisis in a live interview with the state broadcaster SABC, Mr. Zuma said that the effort to remove him was “unfair,” and that party officials had not given him a reason for their decision. “Nobody’s saying what I’ve done,” he said

He said he would make a formal statement later on Wednesday

Mr. Zuma has been found guilty of violating the Constitution in his handling of a corruption case related to his homestead, Nkandla. In addition, a public inquiry on widespread influence-peddling in his administration is expected to be held in the months ahead

Political experts have pointed out that by vacating the presidency, Mr. Zuma would make himself vulnerable to pending inquiries and corruption charges from before he took office that he has been able to deflect as the president

On Tuesday, the A.N.C. ordered Mr. Zuma to step down as South Africa’s leader, saying his continued presence would “erode the renewed hope and confidence among South Africans” since party elections in December, in which Mr. Ramaphosa defeated Mr. Zuma’s preferred candidate for the leadership of the A.N.C

But party leaders did not elaborate on their decision to dismiss Mr. Zuma, even saying that ethical concerns had not been a consideration. They did not explain, as Mr. Zuma himself pointed out in the television interview, why they had loyally backed him until two months ago and were now demanding his resignation. What had changed, beyond the fact that there was now a new A.N.C. leader who wanted him out

As Mr. Zuma remained silent on Wednesday morning, he came under new pressure to resign, as the police raided the residence in Johannesburg of the Guptas, a family with wide-ranging business interests and close ties to one of the president’s sons and his political allies. The Guptas have appeared to operate above the law under Mr. Zuma’s protection, but the police force’s investigative unit, which has long been subject to political interference, is now investigating the powerful family

Local news outlets reported that three people, including a member of the family, had been arrested as part of a new police inquiry into influence-peddling

Analysts said it was no coincidence that heavily armed police officers had raided the Guptas’ luxury compound and carried out arrests even as Mr. Zuma appeared to dither over whether to address the nation. The intended message, they said, was that those closest to Mr. Zuma, or even Mr. Zuma himself, could be next unless he acceded to the party’s order to quit, well before his term as president was scheduled to expire in mid-2019

Around noon on Wednesday, as Mr. Zuma still gave no indication of speaking, party leaders held a news conference and announced they would move to remove him through a no-confidence vote the next day. They said they would work with an opposition party, the Economic Freedom Fighters, which had already pushed for a no-confidence vote in Parliament

“The ball is in his court,” said Paul Mashatile, the A.N.C.’s treasurer general

The fast-moving developments complicated efforts by Mr. Ramaphosa to achieve a smooth transfer of power that would avoid widening fissures inside the party

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