After nine years in power, Jacob Zuma announced Wednesday he was immediately resigning from the office of president of South Africa. He outlasted scandal after scandal, but could not survive overt rejection by his party. The new leader of the African National Congress, Cyril Ramaphosa, had made clear that Zuma’s time was up, and, had he not resigned, he would have been forced out by a vote of no-confidence. Zuma’s exit clears the path to power for Ramaphosa, who will become acting president.
Influence-peddling in his administration was so widespread, according to the nation’s former public protector, that it became a form of state capture in which Mr. Zuma’s business partners or friends influenced government decisions in their personal interest.
The 75-year-old leader’s approval ratings had been sinking along with those of his ruling party, the African National Congress. In the end, the party turned against him and sided with his deputy, Cyril Ramaphosa, who unseated Zuma as party president in December and now becomes acting president of the country.
“I do not fear exiting political office,” he said. “However, I have only asked my party to articulate my transgressions and the reason for its immediate decision that I vacate office.”
He insisted the decision to dismiss him was unjustified, but said he decided to resign in order to avoid violence between members of the ANC.
“I am forever indebted to the ANC, the liberation movement I have served almost all my life,” he said. “I respect each member and leader of this glorious movement. I have served the people of South Africa to the best of my ability. I am forever grateful that they trusted me with the highest office in the land.”