Jacob Zuma. File Photo/ Image: PIETER BAUERMEISTER / AFP
President Jacob Zuma resigned as leader of South Africa on Wednesday evening during a televised address to the nation.
“I resign as president of the republic with immediate effect,” he said, “even though I disagree with the decision of the leadership of my organisation … I have always been a disciplined member of the organisation.”
He added: “As I leave, I will continue to serve the people of South Africa as well as the ANC.”
In his speech, Zuma emphasised that “no leader should seek an easy way out simply because they could not face life at the end of their term without the perks that come with their political office”.
“I fear no motion of no confidence or impeachment. They are the lawful mechanisms for the people of this beautiful country to remove their president.
“I’ve served the people of South Africa to the best of my ability. I am forever grateful that they trusted me with their highest office in the land, but when I accepted the deployment I understood and undertook to subject myself to the supreme law of the land, the Constitution,” he said.
The announcement came despite his initial refusal to resign, even in the face of a no-confidence vote supported by his own party.
On Wednesday morning, the ANC parliamentary caucus met and agreed to support the Economic Freedom Fighters’ motion for a vote of no confidence after Zuma refused to resign – despite being recalled by the ANC’s national executive committee on Tuesday.
Shortly after the ANC caucus meeting, a defiant Zuma gave a live television interview to the SABC where he defended himself and rejected the attempt by the ANC’s top leadership to remove him from his position.
Zuma said he disagreed with the notion that he had to be removed purely because the ANC had a new president.
However, at 10pm the president seemed to accept his fate.
Zuma’s resignation coincided with the arrest of several people linked to the Hawks’ state-capture investigation. Earlier on Wednesday, the elite squad pounced on properties belonging to the Guptas‚ who have been fingered along with Zuma in allegations of state capture.