08 Feb

Zuma Exit Appears Step Closer as ANC Holds Transition Talks

South African President Jacob Zuma appeared a step closer to resigning as he held crunch negotiations on the terms of his exit with the new leader of the ruling African National Congress, Cyril Ramaphosa.

The talks prompted the ANC’s National Executive Committee, its top decision-making body, to postpone a special meeting called for Wednesday to decide whether to force Zuma from office.

Ramaphosa said the talks about the transition of power would be concluded “within coming days” and that the “uncertainty” over Zuma’s position is a cause of concern. Zuma is seeking immunity from prosecution after he leaves office, according to an official with knowledge of the talks.

“I am certain that the process we have now embarked on will achieve an outcome that not only addresses these concerns, but also unites our people around the tasks that all of us must necessarily undertake to build our country,” Ramaphosa said in an emailed statement.

“Both President Zuma and myself are aware that our people want and deserve closure.” Zuma’s expected departure has been cheered by many investors who welcome Ramaphosa’s pledges to bolster growth and clamp down on graft.

Business confidence rose to its highest level since October 2015 last month amid expectation that the new leadership will implement more pragmatic and predictable policies, the South African Chamber of Commerce and Industry said on Tuesday.

The rand has been the best performer in the world against the dollar since Ramaphosa’s Dec. 18 election as ANC leader. It was 0.4 percent weaker at 11.9720 per dollar at 3:12 p.m. in Johannesburg Wednesday.

“The worst-case outcome is a drawn-out multi-month saga in which Zuma refuses to go and the ANC fails to commit to an impeachment or vote of no confidence, but we are not there yet and we judge the probability of this to be low at this time,” said Frans Cronje, chief executive officer of the South African Institute of Race Relations.

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