Jacob Zuma resigned as president of South Africa on Wednesday night in an extraordinary turnaround of events, having earlier insisted he would be defying pressure from within his own party for him to step down.
In a televised live address to the nation he said he had to accept the ruling ANC party’s wishes for him to leave office a day before a no confidence motion was set to bring his nine-year tenure to a premature end amid a cloud of corruption allegations.
Mr Zuma’s announcement came after he appeared defiant in front of the cameras earlier in the day, telling reporters he didn’t believe it was "fair" that the ANC had requested he step down.
His resignation ended a 30-minute speech in his second television appearance of the day, in which the 75-year-old said he still disagreed with the way the ANC had shoved him towards an early exit after the election of Cyril Ramaphosa as party president in December.
“I have served the people of South Africa to the best of my ability. I am forever grateful they trusted me with their highest office of the land,” Mr Zuma said.
Mr Zuma added that he was concerned about violence breaking out between ANC members as the party grew more divided.
“No life should be lost in my name, and also the ANC should never be divided in my name,” he said. “I have therefore come to the decision to resign as President of the Republic with immediate effect.”
At his earlier television appearance he had said he didn’t know why South Africa’s ruling party had ordered him to step down from his job before his term is up next year, and warned that the leaders forcing him out would come to regret their actions.
“It’s the first time I’ve felt an African National Congress decision is not right,” the long-time ANC member and anti-apartheid struggle veteran said in a televised interview on the public broadcaster on Wednesday. “I don’t think it is fair.”
Click Here: camisetas de futbol baratas
Mr Zuma, who had not spoken on the matter of his recall for more than a week, gave the unexpected interview to South Africa’s public broadcaster SABC at a moment many were expecting him to resign.
Profile | Jacob Zuma
He didn’t. Sitting with a near-silent interviewer, Mr Zuma sat in a clinically lit room and instead gave a lengthy narrative of his discussions with the party’s top brass leading up to the day of his recall.
He appeared relaxed, but complained repeatedly that the party never told him why, exactly, it was asking him to resign before the end of his second term next year.
“My problem is that nobody has provided me what have I done,” Mr Zuma said. “There is nothing I’ve done wrong… What is the problem? I don’t understand.”
Though many South Africans could point to a long list of problems they have with Zuma, from multiple corruption scandals to high unemployment, the ruling party has been mum about why, exactly, it decided to recall its long-time member, instead saying the party wished to resolve the matter of his exit quickly to bring “certainty” to the nation.
About | National Assembly of South Africa
Mr Zuma said the ANC leaders told him that “people were saying ‘Zuma must go’.” But, Mr Zuma said, “It wasn’t a new thing. People have been saying this all year.”
“What is this hurry?” he recalled asking his colleagues. “What are you rushing for?”
Mr Zuma said he had agreed to resign, but on the condition that he was given a few more months in office to introduce Cyril Ramaphosa to important contacts and help the party to be more united.
However, the ANC leadership rejected his deal, and demanded he step aside immediately.
“I presented a package. You can’t dismantle that,” Mr Zuma said. “I don’t think it is fair. I think it’s unfair.”
Mr Zuma said he would make a statement on Wednesday, but as of late evening, he had yet to do so as pressure piled on him throughout the day.
Early that morning, the luxurious Johannesburg home of the Guptas, a wealthy business family whose relationship to Mr Zuma has been under national scrutiny, was raided by the Hawks, a special police unit.
Profile | Cyril Ramaphosa
In January, a commission of inquiry was set up to look into whether the Guptas used their ties to Mr Zuma and his allies to further the family’s business interests in South Africa.
Three people were arrested in the raid in connection with an ongoing Hawks probe into the alleged funneling of state funds meant to go to a project benefiting poor black farmers that ended up paying for an over-the-top Gupta family wedding.
Mr Zuma said last night he did "not fear exiting office".