Zambia’s Former President Kaunda Hospitalised – Official

(FILES) In this file photo taken on August 17, 2010 Former and first Zambian president Kenneth Kaunda delivers a speech during the closing ceremony of the 30th Southern African Development Community (SADC) summit in Windhoek, Namibia. (Photo by STEPHANE DE SAKUTIN / AFP)

 

Zambia’s founding father and former president Kenneth Kaunda has been admitted to hospital, his office said Monday.

In a terse statement, it said Kaunda, 97, “has been unwell and was admitted to… Maina Soko Medical Centre,” a military hospital in the capital Lusaka. It gave no further details.

Kaunda ruled Zambia for 27 years, taking the helm after the country gained independence from Britain in October 1964.

The statement said Kaunda was asking Zambians and the international community to pray for him “as the medical team is doing everything possible to ensure that he recovers”.

Initially a popular leader, Kaunda became increasingly autocratic and banned all opposition parties.

He eventually ceded power in the first multi-party elections in 1991, losing to trade unionist Fredrick Chiluba.

While in power he hosted many of the movements fighting for independence or black equality in other countries around the region, including South Africa’s African National Congress (ANC).

Later in life he regained stature as one of Africa’s political giants, helping to mediate crises in Zimbabwe and Kenya.

Affectionately known as “KK”, Kaunda was the head of the main nationalist party, the left-of-centre United National Independence Party (UNIP).

Kaunda also became an AIDS campaigner, announcing publicly one of his sons had died from the illness.

Also nicknamed “Africa’s Gandhi” for his non-violent, independence-related activism in the 1960s, he charmed mourners at Nelson Mandela’s burial in December 2013.

When organisers attempted to usher him away from the podium after he ran over his allotted time, he drew laughs by saying they were “trying to control an old man who fought the Boers”, or Afrikaners — the white descendants of South Africa’s first Dutch settlers.

South Africa Governing Political Party Suspends Top Official In Graft Scandal

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa (C) arrives on day 2 of his appearance on behalf of the ruling party African National Congress (ANC) at the Zondo Commission of Inquiry in Johannesburg, South Africa, on April 29, 2021. PHOTO: Kim Ludbrook / POOL / AFP

 

South Africa’s governing African National Congress (ANC) party has suspended its Secretary-General, Elias “Ace” Magashule, over graft charges in a move seen as a political victory for President Cyril Ramaphosa in the divided party.

But a defiant Magashule, who is the first top party official to be temporarily forced out under a new policy aimed at turning the page on a litany of graft scandals, said he was not going anywhere.

Instead, he said he was suspending Ramaphosa from his position as ANC president.

Magashule, 61, was given a 30-day ultimatum on March 30 to step aside after being charged with embezzling public funds while he was premier of the Free State province.

READ ALSO: China Suspends Economic Accord With Australia

He ignored the deadline and refused to resign voluntarily, forcing the party to suspend him.

“You are hereby temporarily suspended with effect from 3 May 2021 until the final outcome of your court proceedings,” his deputy Jessie Duarte informed Magashule of his suspension in a letter.

The letter, dated Monday and leaked to the media on Wednesday, said the decision to suspend him would be “in the best interest of the organisation”.

But Magashule, countered in a letter Wednesday night sent to Ramaphosa and Duarte, saying he was “appealing this unconstitutional suspension” and that until the appeal was heard he would keep his job.

In a dramatic and strange outburst, he said he was invoking powers vested in him as the Secretary-General of the ANC, to “summarily” suspend Ramaphosa.

But the ANC immediately issued a statement saying its resolution stands and asked Magashule to “respect” the party’s decisions and “subject himself to the discipline of the organization”.

Magashule has been indicted on charges of corruption and fraud, or theft and money laundering, along with around a dozen other co-accused.

The ANC of Nelson Mandela, which has been ruling the country since the end of white minority rule in 1994, has been at pains to clean up its image, marred by years of graft.

 

– ‘Turning point’ –

David Lewis, head of the Corruption Watch NGO, hailed Magashule’s removal as the “first really strong sign that the ANC is prepared to clean up its own ranks”.

The suspension is a “turning point” for the ANC, setting a “serious precedent” that will be difficult to ignore in future, said political analyst Mcebisi Ndletyana.

“It is a win for the ANC as a whole,” Ndletyana told AFP.

Magashule is to be paid his salary during his suspension but not permitted to represent the ANC or speak publicly about the party.

Charges against Magashule relate to public funds that were set aside to vet government-built housing with asbestos roofs in 2014 when he headed the provincial government, dubbed a “gangster state” in a book by investigative journalist Pieter-Louis Myburgh.

The hazardous roofs were never removed, and investigators believe that the equivalent of over $12 million (10 million euros) was pocketed.

Magashule was briefly arrested in November and granted bail on graft charges. He is next expected to appear before a high court in August.

His removal is seen as a first major political score for President Cyril Ramaphosa who first came to power in 2018 vowing to fight corruption when he succeeded the scandal-tainted Jacob Zuma.

“The suspension will bring some credibility to the president’s longstanding pledge of addressing corruption within the ANC,” said Aleix Montana, analyst at risk intelligence firm Verisk Maplecroft.

But analysts note that Magashule, a renowned political infighter with a permanent scowl, a Zuma confidant with an entrenched following within the party, will deepen the factionalism woes in the ANC.

The historic party has been suffering a decline in support in elections in recent years. The country goes to local government polls in October this year.

John Steenhuisen, leader of the main opposition Democratic Alliance party, said it was not enough to just suspend Magashule, demanding that the party makes sure that “he is put behind bars.”

AFP

ANC Wins South Africa Election With Reduced Majority

President of South Africa and the African National Congress Cyril Ramaphosa (C) greets a voter as he arrives to cast his vote for the general elections at the Hitekani Primary School, Chiawelo, Soweto, on May 8, 2019. 
Michele Spatari / AFP

 

The African National Congress (ANC) has won the South African election with a reduced majority.

Provisional results on Saturday showed the ruling party secured 57.51% of the votes in Wednesday’s general election. The main opposition party Democratic Alliance (DA) picked up 20.76% and the leftist Economic Freedom Fighters garnered 10.79%, the Independent Electoral Commission said on its website.

The ANC’s victory secures it enough seats in parliament to give President Cyril Ramaphosa another five years in office but may leave him short of ammunition to battle party rivals who oppose his reforms to galvanize the economy and counter graft.

It was the worst electoral performance by the late Nelson Mandela’s former liberation movement, which has governed South Africa since the country’s first free election marked the end of white minority rule in 1994.

The ANC had not previously won less than 60% of the vote in a national poll.

The provisional results also showed the ANC won a tight provincial race in Gauteng, where South Africa’s biggest city and commercial centre Johannesburg and the administrative capital Pretoria are located, with 50.19% of the vote.

Ramaphosa, who replaced scandal-plagued Jacob Zuma as president in February 2018, had aimed to re-engage ANC voters whose support has been eroded by faltering efforts to address corruption, unemployment and disparities in housing, land and services.

Victory In Sight For ANC In Closely-Watched South Africa Poll

A South African ruling party African National Congress (ANC) party representative overlooks Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) staff members folding ballot papers at the Brixton Recreational Centre voting station in Brixton, Johannesburg, as part of the vote for South African general elections on May 8, 2019. PHOTO: Michele Spatari / AFP

 

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa’s ruling ANC was in touching distance of election victory Friday but with diminished support, complicating efforts to revive the country’s flagging economy and fight corruption, results showed.

The African National Congress (ANC), in power since 1994, held a very comfortable lead with nearly 57 percent after three-quarters of voting districts were officially tallied following Wednesday’s vote.

But the result would be the party’s worst national showing since Nelson Mandela led the ANC to victory in the first multi-racial polls after apartheid ended in 1994.

Ramaphosa, 66, took over last year when the party forced then-president Jacob Zuma to resign after nine years dominated by corruption allegations and economic problems.

He was expected to visit the Electoral Commission (IEC) results operation centre in Pretoria at 0800 GMT.

“We’re going to be the government, whether there is decline or increase,” said the ANC’s chairman Gwede Mantashe late on Thursday.

Results released by the IEC showed the ANC’s closest rival, the main opposition Democratic Alliance (DA) trailing with a distant 22 percent of the vote.

The Economic Freedom Fighters, founded six years ago by former ANC youth leader Julius Malema, was in third place with almost 10 percent.

Final results are expected to be officially certified on Saturday.

A new projection by South Africa’s respected Council for Scientific and Industrial Research forecast the ANC would win with 57 percent — a five percentage point drop from the last election in 2014.

‘Deepening of our democracy’

Jessie Duarte, the ANC deputy secretary-general, said the partial results were neither a “disappointment” nor a “surprise”.

“What I think is important to recognise is the deepening of our democracy,” she said at the IEC in Pretoria.

The party that wins the most seats in parliament selects the president, who will be sworn in on May 25.

“This is an election that will really offer the ANC a last chance to kickstart economic growth,” said analyst Daniel Silke. “The pressure is really on Ramaphosa in the next five years.”

Ramaphosa has so far faced resistance to his reform agenda, especially from Zuma’s allies who still occupy several high-ranking positions in the party and government.

After casting his  ballot on Wednesday, Ramaphosa said the election was “heralding a new dawn… a period of renewal, a period of hope”.

The ANC’s reputation was badly sullied under Zuma. Its support has fallen in every election since 2004 with the party taking 54 percent in 2016 municipal elections, compared with 62 percent in 2014’s national vote.

Anti-apartheid icon Nelson Mandela and the ANC were swept to power with a landslide in the country’s first multi-racial elections that marked the end of white minority rule in 1994.

Most opinion polls before the vote had suggested the ANC would secure nearly 60 percent of the vote because of Ramaphosa’s appeal and a fractured opposition.

Forty-eight parties contested the elections — a record number.

The conservative and predominantly white Freedom Front Plus party, founded in 1994 during the negotiations to end apartheid, was performing strongly as the fourth biggest party in the vote.

 ‘The poor are getting poorer’

The ANC has been confronted by deepening public anger over its failure to tackle poverty and inequality in the post-apartheid era.

“We have given them 25 years but the poor are getting poorer and the rich richer,” said voter Anmareth Preece, 28, a teacher. “We need a government that governs for the people, not for themselves.”

The economy grew just 0.8 per cent in 2018 and unemployment hovers around 27 per cent — soaring to over 50 per cent among young people.

The main opposition DA is hoping to shed its image as a white, middle-class party with its first black leader, Mmusi Maimane, contesting his first general election since taking the helm in 2015.

“Black South Africans have voted for the DA, white South Africans have voted for the DA. I’m quite content with where we are at the moment as a party,” he told reporters at the results centre.

Malema’s EFF is predicted to make major gains, growing from 6.3 per cent to a forecast 11 per cent.

“We got into the race for significant change,” said EFF secretary general Godrich Gardee.

Mandla Booi, 45, a voter in Port Elizabeth on the south coast, said: “the ANC has taken people for granted”.

“There is some arrogance which has crept in.”

About 26.8 million people were registered to vote but only an estimated 65 per cent did so.

AFP

South Africa ANC Takes Early Lead In Election Results

An Independent Electoral Officer (IEC) opens a ballot box as counting begins at the Addington Primary School after voting ended at the sixth national general elections in Durban, on May 8, 2019. PHOTO: RAJESH JANTILAL / AFP

 

South Africa’s ANC surged into the lead in early official results on Thursday with 55 percent of the vote in the first electoral test of President Cyril Ramaphosa’s bid to reinvigorate the ruling party.

With just over a fifth of voting districts tallied, the Election Commission put the African National Congress well ahead, with its closest rival the Democratic Alliance trailing with a distant 26 percent.

The Economic Freedom Fighters, founded six years ago by former ANC youth leader Julius Malema, was sitting at eight percent

Ramaphosa, 66, took over last year after the African National Congress (ANC) forced then-president Jacob Zuma to resign after nine years dominated by corruption allegations and economic problems.

The party that wins the most seats in parliament selects the country’s president, who will be sworn in on May 25.

“The outcome of this election will be a major boost for investors… and investor confidence, it’s about confidence and about the future,” Ramaphosa said after voting on Wednesday.

The ANC’s reputation was badly sullied under Zuma.

“We apologise for our mistakes.”

Support for the ANC has fallen in every election since 2004 with the party taking 54 percent in 2016 municipal elections, compared with 62 percent in 2014’s national vote.

Nelson Mandela and the African National Congress (ANC) were swept to power with a landslide in the country’s first multi-racial polls that marked the end of apartheid in 1994.

Most opinion surveys suggest the ANC will secure nearly 60 percent of the vote, thanks to Ramaphosa’s appeal and a fractured opposition.

Dirk Coetzee, a professor at UNISA’s political science department, said “the higher the percentage for the ANC, the more it will give him (Ramaphosa) bargaining power”.

“If Ramaphosa gets below 50 percent he will be very vulnerable” to challenges from rivals within the ANC, he added.

‘The poor are getting poorer’

The ANC has been confronted by deepening public anger over its failure to tackle poverty and inequality in post-apartheid South Africa.

“We have given them 25 years but the poor are getting poorer and the rich richer,” said voter Anmareth Preece, 28, a teacher from Coligny in North West province. “We need a government that governs for the people, not for themselves.”

The economy grew just 0.8 percent in 2018 and unemployment hovers around 27 percent — soaring to over 50 percent among young people.

Of the 47 opposition parties in the race, only the main opposition centrist DA and the radical-left EFF are major players.

The DA is hoping to shed its image as a white, middle-class party.

Its first black leader, Mmusi Maimane, is contesting his maiden general election since taking the helm in 2015, and is expected to make modest gains on the DA’s 2014 vote share of 22 percent.

Malema’s EFF was predicted to make major gains, growing from 6.3 percent to a forecast 11 percent. The partial results show it at eight percent.

“The ANC has taken people for granted. There is some arrogance which has crept in,” said voter Mandla Booi, 45, in Port Elizabeth on the south coast.

The EFF, which appeals mainly to young voters and the poor, has campaigned on a policy of seizing land from white owners to give to blacks.

Enforced land redistribution is also ANC policy — alarming some investors.

About 26.8 million voters were registered to cast their ballots at 22,925 polling stations countrywide.

AFP

South Africans Head To Polls Tipped To Be Won By ANC

An elderly partially blind voter is assisted by a relative and Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) officials to cast her vote during the sixth general elections at the Wiggins Community hall in Cato Manor in Durban, South Africa, on May 8, 2019.  PHOTO: RAJESH JANTILAL / AFP

 

South Africans on Wednesday headed to the polls but certain to return the ruling ANC despite anger over corruption scandals, sluggish growth, and record unemployment.

The election is the first measure of whether President Cyril Ramaphosa can reinvigorate support for a party whose backing rests largely on its liberation credentials, but now faces the prospect of a reduced majority.

“The ANC has been in power for the past 25 years and I don’t see any change,” lamented unemployed father-of-two Jacob Maretlwa, 30, who lives in a shack in Coligny in the North West province.

Ramaphosa, 66, took over last year after the ANC, which first swept to power in 1994, forced then-President Jacob Zuma to resign after a nine-year term dominated by corruption allegations and a struggling economy.

Zuma oversaw the party’s most significant drop in support in the democratic era.

“This is a vote that reminds us of 1994… heralding a new period,” Ramaphosa said after casting his ballot at a school in Chiawelo, Soweto, and described himself as “excitedly confident” of the outcome.

“I am truly humbled by the turnout… it’s a vote for the democratic system we have been building for 25 years,” he said.

“This is like a rocket booster for democracy.”

The 1994 vote saw Nelson Mandela and the African National Congress take power in the country’s first multi-racial polls, marking the end of apartheid.

Support for the ANC has fallen in every election since 2004 with the party taking 54 percent in 2016 municipal elections, compared with 62 percent in 2014’s national vote.

Most opinion surveys suggest the ANC will secure nearly 60 percent of the Wednesday’s vote, thanks to Ramaphosa’s appeal and a fractured opposition.

“It reflects the weakness of the opposition, more than it does reflect the achievements of the ANC,” said political scientist Collette Schulz-Herzenberg from Stellenbosch University.

‘Not happy with the ANC’

The ANC has been confronted by deepening public anger over its failure to tackle poverty and inequality in post-apartheid South Africa.

“It’s not easy to make the right choice,” said Soweto-based first-time voter Nokuthula Shongwe, 18, who stated her priorities as unemployment and crime. “I’m nervous.”

The economy grew just 0.8 percent in 2018 and unemployment hovers around 27 percent — soaring to over 50 percent among young people.

Of the 47 opposition parties in the race, only the main opposition centrist Democratic Alliance (DA) and the radical-left Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) are major players.

The DA is hoping to shed its image as a white, middle-class party.

Its first black leader, Mmusi Maimane, is contesting his maiden general election since taking the helm in 2015, and is expected to make modest gains on the DA’s 2014 vote share of 22 percent.

“Vote for the future of this country and the South Africans who are unemployed,” Maimane said after voting in Soweto, insisting the poll was not “a beauty pageant but a contract” between voters and their representatives.

‘People died for us to vote’

“This vote is about competence… so we can clean up this country,” added Maimane, wearing a suit in the DA’s signature blue and posed for selfies with voters.

But the EFF, founded six years ago by former ANC youth leader Julius Malema, is predicted to make major gains, growing from 6.3 percent to a forecast 11 percent.

“A lot of people died for us to vote — we are here to honour their memories,” said Malema as he cast his ballot in Seshego in eastern Limpopo province.

“If you need change, EFF is the way to go,” added Malema, sporting his signature red and a green baseball cap with a red star.

The party, which appeals mainly to young voters and the poor, has campaigned on a policy of seizing land from white owners to give to blacks.

Enforced land redistribution is also ANC policy — alarming some investors.

About 26.8 million voters are registered to cast their ballots at 22,925 polling stations countrywide.

Polls opened at 7.00 am (0500 GMT) and are due to close at 9.00 pm.

Preliminary results will emerge on Thursday, with an official winner declared on Saturday.

The party that wins the most seats in parliament selects the country’s president, who will be sworn in on May 25.

“The outcome of this election will be a major boost for investors… and investor confidence, it’s about confidence and about the future,” Ramaphosa said after making his cross.

“We apologise for our mistakes.”

AFP

South Africa’s ANC Withdraws Land Expropriation Bill Passed In 2016

 

South Africa’s ruling African National Congress (ANC) said on Tuesday an expropriation bill passed by parliament in 2016 enabling the state to make compulsory purchases of land to redress racial disparities in land ownership has been withdrawn.

The bill which had not been signed into law was withdrawn to allow an ongoing process that could lead to the changing of the constitution to pave way for the expropriation of land without compensation, the party said.

Zuma Fights ANC’s Quit Order Says He’s Unfairly Treated

 

South African President Jacob Zuma fought back on Wednesday against an order from the ruling ANC party to immediately resign, saying he had been unfairly treated and was given no reason why he should quit.

“It was very unfair to me that this issue is raised,” he said in an unannounced TV interview. “Nobody has ever provided the reasons. Nobody is saying what I have done.”

In a rambling 45-minute interview, Zuma did not directly refuse to resign, but said that he disagreed with “the manner in which the decision is being implemented.”

He repeatedly said he was not defying the ANC leadership, but added that “I don’t agree, as there is no evidence of if I have done anything wrong.”

He said he would make a further statement later Wednesday.

Zuma, whose reputation has been stained by years-long allegations of graft, has been told by the African National Congress (ANC) party to step down.

The South African parliament will hold a vote of no-confidence in Zuma on Thursday if he refuses to go, the ANC said earlier, signalling its determination to eject him from office after days of stalemate.

The struggle has put Zuma at loggerheads with Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa, his likely successor, who is the new head of the ANC.

AFP

Zuma Triggers Crisis By Refusing ANC’s Exit Order

 

South Africa on braced Tuesday for a major political showdown as scandal-tainted President Jacob Zuma reportedly rejected a direct order from the ruling ANC party to leave office.

The power struggle over Zuma’s departure put the president at loggerheads with Cyril Ramaphosa, his expected successor, who is the new head of the African National Congress.

The party’s powerful 107-member national executive committee (NEC) met for 13 hours at a hotel outside Pretoria and decided in the early hours of Tuesday to “recall” Zuma from his post.

Ramaphosa and Ace Magashule, the party’s secretary-general, had personally delivered a request for Zuma to resign to the president’s official residence in Pretoria at about midnight.

But Zuma “was very arrogant. He told them he was not going anywhere as he did nothing wrong,” an unnamed ANC committee member told the Mail and Guardian newspaper.

“He told them if the ANC issued a statement on its decision to recall him, he will retaliate.”

Another source told the Times Live website that Ramaphosa had pleaded with Zuma to leave office, but Zuma had responded “in no uncertain terms” that he would not resign.

The ANC — which was once led by anti-apartheid struggle leader Nelson Mandela — reportedly dismissed a request by Zuma for a few more months in office and instead gave him 48 hours to step down.

– Who’s in charge? –

ANC officials were not reachable Tuesday morning, but the party called a press conference for 2:00 pm (1200 GMT) at its headquarters in Johannesburg.

The ANC can “recall” the head of state, essentially forcing him to resign, but the process is a party-level instruction and he is under no constitutional obligation to obey.

If he refuses, Zuma would then likely be ousted via a parliamentary vote of no-confidence within days.

Ramaphosa, the de-facto president-in-waiting, has been in deadlocked negotiations with Zuma, who dismissed an earlier request from party leaders to resign more than a week ago.

The stalemate plunged South Africa — Africa’s most developed economy — into uncertainty over who is running the country, with a series of public events cancelled last week including the annual State of the Nation address to parliament.

“We know you want this matter to be finalised,” Ramaphosa, 65, told a party rally in Cape Town on Sunday to loud cheers.

“We know you want closure… Because our people want this matter to be finalised, the NEC will be doing precisely that.”

South African opposition parties have called for early elections as the ANC’s leadership battle grinds on.

An opposition request for a no-confidence vote against Zuma, 75, this week was still being considered by the parliamentary Speaker.

– Graft scandals –

Zuma’s presidency has been marred by corruption scandals, slow economic growth and record unemployment that have fuelled public anger.

He was scheduled to stand down next year after serving the maximum two terms after coming to power in 2009.

“I think Jacob Zuma is almost daring the ANC to remove him through a motion of no confidence because he knows that would be damaging for unity in the party,” analyst Abdul Waheed Patel told AFP.

In 2008, Zuma’s supporters pushed out then-president Thabo Mbeki over allegations of abuse of power.

In local polls in 2016, the ANC recorded its worst electoral performance since coming to power with Mandela at the helm in 1994 when white-minority rule fell.

The party faces a tricky general election next year.

Ramaphosa is a former trade unionist and Mandela ally who led talks to end apartheid rule in the early 1990s and then became a multi-millionaire businessman before returning to politics.

Zuma’s hold over the ANC was shaken in December when his chosen successor — his former wife Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma — narrowly lost to Ramaphosa in a vote to be the new party leader.

The ANC has insisted there will be no delay to the budget speech, which is due on February 21.

AFP

ANC Decides To Remove Zuma As South Africa’s President

South Africa's ANC To Hold Talks On Zuma's Future
FILE PHOTO: South African President Jacob Zuma attends the opening of the Ordinary Session of the Assembly of Heads of State and Government during the 30th annual African Union summit in Addis Ababa on January 28, 2018. PHOTO: SIMON MAINA / AFP

South Africa’s ruling ANC party resolved on Tuesday to oust scandal-tainted President Jacob Zuma from office after he refused to resign, local media reported following marathon closed-door talks.

The party’s powerful 107-member national executive committee (NEC) met for 13 hours at a hotel outside Pretoria, and decided it would “recall” Zuma from his post, several local media outlets said.

“It took a brutal 13 hours, but the ANC’s national executive committee has decided to recall President Jacob Zuma as head of state,” the Times Live news website said, citing unnamed sources in the talks.

Other media reported that the party would write to Zuma ordering him to stand down as president after his request for a few more months in office was rejected.

State broadcaster SABC said the ANC had given Zuma 48 hours to turn in his resignation.

ANC officials were not reachable to confirm the reports, but the party called a press conference for 12:00 pm (1000 GMT) at its headquarters in Johannesburg.

The ANC can “recall” the head of state, essentially forcing him to step down, but the process is a party-level instruction and he is under no constitutional obligation to obey.

If he refuses, he would then likely be ousted via a parliamentary vote of no-confidence within days.

As the dramatic power struggle built to a climax, African National Congress chief Cyril Ramaphosa reportedly left the all-night meeting for a face-to-face conversation with Zuma at his official Pretoria residence.

Ramaphosa’s motorcade was seen returning to the meeting at midnight. Three hours later, the talks closed.

Ramaphosa, the de-facto president-in-waiting, has been in deadlocked negotiations with Zuma, who dismissed an earlier request from party leaders to step down more than a week ago.

The stalemate around Zuma’s future plunged South Africa into political uncertainty over who is running the country, with a series of public events cancelled including last Thursday’s annual State of the Nation address to parliament.

– ‘Want closure’ –

“We know you want this matter to be finalised,” Ramaphosa, 65, told a party rally in Cape Town on Sunday to rapturous cheering.

“We know you want closure… Because our people want this matter to be finalised, the NEC will be doing precisely that.”

South African opposition parties on Monday called for early elections as the ANC’s leadership battleground on.

“We must proceed to the dissolution of parliament… subsequent to that, we move on to an early election,” Democratic Alliance (DA) party leader Mmusi Maimane told reporters, speaking alongside several opposition parties.

The parliamentary speaker announced that an opposition request for a no-confidence vote against Zuma on Tuesday was still being considered.

Zuma’s presidency has been marred by corruption scandals, slow economic growth and record unemployment that have fuelled public anger.

He was scheduled to stand down next year after serving the maximum two terms after coming to power in 2009.

Zuma’s hold over the ANC was shaken in December when his chosen successor — his former wife Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma — narrowly lost to Ramaphosa in a vote to be the new party leader.

The ANC has insisted there will be no delay to the budget speech, which is due on February 21.

Sunday’s rally was part of ANC celebrations marking 100 years since Nelson Mandela’s birth — as well as efforts by Ramaphosa to revive the party’s tainted reputation ahead of next year’s general election.

Zuma, 75, has not spoken publicly since February 4 when he was first asked by the party top leadership to step down.

In 2008, his supporters pushed out then-president Thabo Mbeki over allegations of abuse of power.

Under Zuma, the ANC won less than 54 percent of the vote in local elections in 2016 — its worst electoral performance since coming to power with Mandela at the helm in 1994.

Ramaphosa is a former trade unionist who led talks to end apartheid rule in the early 1990s and then became a multi-millionaire businessman before returning to politics.

AFP

ANC Chiefs To Meet To ‘Finalise’ Zuma Exit

South Africa's ANC To Hold Talks On Zuma's Future
South African President Jacob Zuma
SIMON MAINA / AFP

Top leaders of South Africa’s ruling ANC will meet Monday to finalise the departure of embattled President Jacob Zuma after party chief Cyril Ramaphosa promised to bring “closure” to the crisis.

Ramaphosa said at a party rally in Cape Town on Sunday he wanted to replace “a period of difficulty, disunity and discord” with “a new beginning” for the party.

“We know you want this matter to be finalised,” he said to rapturous cheering, vowing to tackle the corruption that has tarnished Zuma’s government.

Zuma has clung to power after rejecting a request by his party’s senior officials to resign a week ago.

The powerful committee could recall the president from office, though he would be under no constitutional obligation to obey the order.

“We know you want closure — we will be doing so keeping our eyes on what is in the interests of all our people,” Ramaphosa said to loud applause on Sunday.

“The National Executive Committee of the ANC will be meeting tomorrow to discuss this very matter — and because our people want this matter to be finalised, the NEC will be doing precisely that.”

Litha Madita, 48, an NGO worker from Cape Town, welcomed the announcement of the NEC meeting, adding that Ramaphosa has spoken “to the aspirations of the South Africans”.

“It brings hope that there is a new venture we are getting into.

“But we have to respect (Zuma) as a former president of the ANC. It is important not to disrupt the country or bring violence into the country.”

Zuma’s presidency has been marred by corruption scandals, slow economic growth and record unemployment that have fuelled public anger.

The stalemate over Zuma’s departure has left Africa’s most developed economy in limbo, with a series of public events cancelled last week including Thursday’s State of the Nation address to parliament.

Opposition parties last week had threatened a “national shutdown” in response to Zuma’s refusal to resign — although it was unclear if the action would go ahead.

Dispute over exit deal? 

Zuma’s hold over the ANC was shaken in December when his chosen successor — his former wife Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma — narrowly lost out to Ramaphosa in a vote to be the new party leader.

Sunday’s rally was part of ANC celebrations marking 100 years since late leader Nelson Mandela’s birth — as well as efforts by Ramaphosa to try to revive the party’s tainted reputation ahead of next year’s general election.

“We have arrived at a moment in the history of our country where we can relive that moment when Nelson Mandela was released… we have a new mood right across the country, we can capture that mood and move forward,” said Ramaphosa.

He was speaking to mark the 28th anniversary of the speech Mandela gave in the same location after being released from prison.

It is understood that a key sticking point in the negotiations is the potentially ruinous legal fees Zuma is facing from prolonged court battles against multiple criminal cases.

He is also reportedly seeking legal protection for his family and other associates who have been involved in controversial deals.

“Even if the ANC meeting on Monday decides Zuma needs to step down, he can still refuse because they have no legal authority,” Mcebisi Ndletyana, politics professor at the University of Johannesburg, told AFP.

“He is not willing to step down voluntarily. They need to close this thing early this week.”

Opposition parties are calling for a parliamentary vote of no-confidence within days.

– Decision time? –
The ANC has insisted there will be no delay to the budget, which is due on February 21.

Zuma has not spoken publicly since being asked to resign by senior ANC officials on February 4.

In 2008, the party pushed out then-president Thabo Mbeki over allegations of abuse of power.

Under Zuma, the ANC won less than 54 percent of the vote in local elections in 2016.

That was its worst electoral performance since coming to power with Mandela at the helm in 1994.

AFP

Ramaphosa Admits ‘Disunity’ In ANC As Zuma Fights Exit

Ramaphosa To Address Rally As South Africa Deadlock Tightens

Cyril Ramaphosa (C), South African Deputy president, and newly elected president of the ruling African National Congress (ANC) greets people during a church service at St George’s Cathedral, on February 11, 2018, in Cape Town. The top decision-making body of South Africa’s ruling ANC will meet on February 12, 2018 following days of talks over President Jacob Zuma’s expected departure from office, a party spokeswoman said.
RODGER BOSCH / AFP

South Africa’s president-in-waiting Cyril Ramaphosa admitted Sunday to “disunity and discord” in the ruling ANC party as the deadlocked effort to oust scandal-tainted President Jacob Zuma grinds on.

Ramaphosa said he wanted to replace “a period of difficulty, disunity and discord” with “a new beginning” for the party, and he vowed to tackle corruption that has tarnished Zuma’s government.

With Zuma refusing a party request to resign, the African National Congress’s top decision-making committee will meet on Monday.

The committee could recall the president from office, though he would be under no constitutional obligation to obey the order.

Ramaphosa told an ANC rally in Cape Town that the meeting would “finalise” the matter, but he gave no further details.

“We know you want closure — we will be doing so keeping our eyes on what is in the interests of all our people,” he said to loud applause.

Zuma has clung to power after rejecting a request by his party’s senior officials to resign a week ago.

Several thousand ANC supporters wearing the party’s signature yellow, green and black colours attended the rally at the symbolic Grand Parade in central Cape Town.

On the same day in 1990, Nelson Mandela spoke to euphoric crowds who filled the packed public square in front of City Hall, hours after his release from prison.

It was his first speech as free man, and a key moment in South Africa’s modern re-birth as apartheid white-minority rule crumbled.

Holding the microphone for Mandela that day was a young Ramaphosa, then a trade union leader.

Zuma’s presidency has been marred by corruption scandals, slow economic growth and record unemployment that have fuelled public anger in sharp contrast to national optimism after Mandela’s release.

The stalemate over Zuma’s departure has left South Africa in limbo, with a series of public events cancelled last week including Thursday’s State of the Nation address to parliament.

Dispute over exit deal? 

Zuma’s hold over the ANC was shaken in December when his chosen successor — his former wife Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma — narrowly lost out to Ramaphosa in a vote to be the new party leader.

“We are in a very difficult space, and there’s no doubt it requires a great deal of courage and moral strength to pass this moment,” ANC deputy secretary general Jessie Duarte said Sunday.

The rally was part of ANC celebrations marking 100 years since Mandela’s birth — as well as efforts by Ramaphosa to try to revive the party’s tainted reputation ahead of next year’s general election.

Local media said a key sticking point in the negotiations was the potentially huge legal fees Zuma is facing from prolonged court battles against multiple criminal cases.

One case relates to 783 payments he allegedly received linked to an arms deal before he came to power.

He is also reportedly seeking legal protection for his family and other associates who have been involved in controversial deals.

“Even if the ANC meeting on Monday decides Zuma needs to step down, he can still refuse because they have no legal authority,” Mcebisi Ndletyana, politics professor at University of Johannesburg, told AFP.

“He is not willing to step down voluntarily. They need to close this thing early this week.”

Opposition parties are calling for a parliamentary vote of no-confidence within days.

 Decision time? 

The ANC has insisted there will be no delay to the budget, which is on February 21.

Zuma has not spoken since being asked to resign by senior ANC officials on February 4.

In 2008, the party pushed out then-president Thabo Mbeki over allegations of abuse of power.

Under Zuma, the ANC suffered its worst electoral setback since coming to power under Mandela in 1994, winning less than 54 percent of the vote in municipal elections in 2016.

AFP