14 Feb

Zuma Has Next Move in ANC Power Battle as Gupta Home Raided

The noose tightened on South African President Jacob Zuma as the police went after key allies while leaders of the ruling African National Congress vowed to force him from office.

Police raided the Johannesburg home of the Gupta family, who are in business with Zuma’s son, Duduzane, early Wednesday as the nation awaited the president’s next move in his struggle for power with Cyril Ramaphosa.

Time is against Zuma, South Africa’s ultimate political street fighter, as Ramaphosa has relentlessly grabbed political space since he won the presidency of the party by a razor-thin majority in December.

The ANC expects Zuma to respond to its decision to replace him Wednesday, its spokesman Pule Mabe told Johannesburg-based state broadcaster SAFM. The presidency said no media event was scheduled.

Zuma succeeded in delaying the inevitable last week when his apparent willingness to negotiate prompted Ramaphosa and the rest of the ANC leadership to postpone a meeting of their top body, the National Executive Committee, to decide his future.

But as the talks dragged on, the NEC decided late Monday that his time was up. When he countered by asking to remain in office for up to six months, the party bosses said enough is enough.

“It’s not up to Zuma now; he no longer has any option,” said Mpumelelo Mkhabela, a political analyst at the University of Pretoria’s Center of Governance Innovation. “They gave him the option to take control of his own resignation, and when that didn’t work the party took control. The idea of trying not to humiliate him didn’t work.”

While ANC Secretary-General Ace Magashule was at pains to show respect for the president on Tuesday, saying Zuma had done nothing, critics say his tenure will be remembered as a time when South Africa went from being known as a “rainbow nation” to one colored by corruption.

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12 Feb

Zuma’s D-Day Nears as Ramaphosa Promises Power Transition

South African President Jacob Zuma’s fate is set to be sealed when the top leadership of the ruling African National Congress meets to conclude the transition to a new administration.

The National Executive Committee will assemble on Monday in the capital, Pretoria, as Zuma, 75, has defied growing pressure to resign since his deputy, Cyril Ramaphosa, replaced him as party leader in December. His nine-year tenure has been marred by scandal and eroded support for the ANC.

“Our people want this matter finalized,” Ramaphosa told a crowd of about 3,000 people on the Grand Parade next to the Cape Town city hall on Sunday to commemorate the 28th anniversary of Nelson Mandela’s release from prison.

“The National Executive Committee will be doing precisely that. We know you want closure on this matter.”

While the 65-year-old lawyer’s rise to the ANC’s top post assured him of being its presidential candidate in elections next year, the new leadership wants an early exit for Zuma so it can begin rebuilding support.

Should Zuma refuse to obey the national executive’s order to step down, it could tell its lawmakers to use their majority in parliament to vote him out of office, clearing the way for Ramaphosa to take over.

Mandela Address

Ramaphosa delivered his speech at exactly the same venue and time when he held the microphone for Mandela’s address 28 years ago on the day he was freed from a 27-year incarceration. The rally Sunday marked the start of a series of events to celebrate the centenary of Mandela’s birth.

“As we emerge from a period of difficulty, a period of disunity and discord, this Nelson Mandela centenary year offers us what I would call a new beginning,” said Ramaphosa, who was Mandela’s favored successor two decades ago. “It offers us an opportunity to restore to our national life the values and principles for which he so firmly stood.”

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