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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14 Feb

Zuma Defies ANC’s Call to Quit, Leaving South Africa in Limbo

South Africans awoke to find their nation in limbo after President Jacob Zuma’s refusal to obey his ruling African National Congress’s request to resign voluntarily prompted its top leadership to order his removal from office.

The ANC’s National Executive Committee decided to “recall” Zuma, 75, during a 13-hour meeting that ended early Tuesday, according to five people familiar with the matter who asked not to be identified because the decision hasn’t been made public.

It marked the failure of efforts to convince Zuma to agree to an amicable transfer of power from his scandal-ridden administration to one headed by party leader Cyril Ramaphosa.

Unless Zuma decides to resign soon, the ANC will have to order its lawmakers in parliament to approve a motion of no confidence in the president.

The political impasse already forced the unprecedented postponement of last week’s scheduled annual state-of-the-nation address and may imperil the presentation of the budget on Feb. 21.

The ANC is holding a press conference at 2 p.m. to explain its next move. Zuma’s spokesman, Bongani Ngqulunga, didn’t answer calls to his mobile phone.

“There is nothing good about a leadership limbo in any country,” said Daniel Silke, the director of Political Futures Consultancy in Cape Town.

“This extreme political uncertainty is the last thing South Africa needs as it tries to claw back some credibility in the minds of investors and the global community.”

The ANC wants Ramaphosa, a 65-year-old former labor union leader and businessman, to take over as soon as possible before elections next year so he has time to show he can meet his pledges to rebuild a battered economy — the most industrialized in Africa — and clamp down on the graft that critics say marred the Zuma era.

The rand has gained the most against the dollar of the 16 major currencies since his Dec. 18 election as ANC leader.

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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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09 Feb

Top ANC Officials Cancel Events as Zuma Exit Talks Intensify

Top South African ruling party officials pulled out of events being staged to commemorate the centenary of the birth of national icon Nelson Mandela on Friday morning, as negotiations intensified over President Jacob Zuma’s exit from office.

The African National Congress’s top six officials had been called into an urgent meeting with Zuma, Johannesburg-based broadcaster eNCA reported. ANC spokesman Pule Mabe said he didn’t have details on the meeting.

Zuma has shrugged off a succession of scandals during his nine-year tenure as president, but pressure has been mounting on him to quit since Cyril Ramaphosa won control of the ruling party in December. Talks about a transition of power are due to be concluded within a matter of days, Ramaphosa said in a statement on Wednesday.

Investors are banking on Ramaphosa fulfilling his pledges to revive the flagging economy and clamp down in the corruption that has become synonymous with the Zuma era.

The rand gained as much as 0.9 percent on speculation that Zuma is set to quit, and traded 0.8 percent stronger at 12.0721 per dollar by 9:49 a.m. in Johannesburg on Friday, the best performance out of 31 major and developing-nation currencies tracked by Bloomberg.

Source: https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-02-09/top-anc-officials-cancel-events-as-zuma-exit-talks-intensify

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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07 Feb

Zuma Resignation Appears Nearer as ANC Delays Crisis Meeting

South African President Jacob Zuma appeared a step closer to resigning after the ruling African National Congress delayed an emergency meeting to discuss whether to force him from office.

The decision by the ANC’s National Executive Committee, its top decision-making body, to postpone its meeting until later this month came after “constructive” talks between Zuma and Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa, party spokesman Pule Mabe said late Tuesday. Ramaphosa replaced the president as leader of the ruling African National Congress in December.

“My supposition is that the postponement of the NEC means the core issue around Zuma’s exit has been resolved and now they are ironing out the details,” Richard Calland, an analyst at risk advisory company the Paternoster Group, said by phone from Cape Town.

Earlier, parliament decided to ask Zuma to delay his state-of-the-nation address scheduled for Thursday due to fears of violence, National Assembly Speaker Baleka Mbete told reporters outside parliament in Cape Town.

Investor Cheer

Ramaphosa has been cheered by many investors for his pledges to bolster growth, clamp down on graft and provide greater policy certainty. While the rand has been the best performer in the world against the dollar since his Dec. 18 election as ANC leader, it was 0.3 percent weaker at 11.9554 per dollar at 7:54 a.m. in Johannesburg Wednesday.

The ANC’s former head of intelligence, Zuma took power in May 2009 and clung to office through a series of scandals with the aid of his allies who controlled most key positions in the party and government.

Since Ramaphosa beat Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, Zuma’s favored successor and ex-wife, in the December vote for the party leadership, the president’s fortunes have waned. The legislature is due to debate a motion of no-confidence proposed by the opposition Economic Freedom Fighters party on Feb. 22.

To read the full article, click here. 

 

05 Feb

ANC Calls for ‘Urgent’ Meeting of Officials After Zuma Talks

A committee of top officials from South Africa’s ruling party is due to meet a day after President Jacob Zuma reportedly told its most senior leaders that he wouldn’t step down.

Zuma’s refusal to resign is forcing the African National Congress to decide if it wants to recall him as national president, Business Day reported, without saying where it got the information. The National Working Committee can convene the larger National Executive Committee, which can order Zuma to step down.

“Everything is under control. There’s no crisis,” ANC Secretary-General Ace Magashule said by phone. An “urgent notice” sent to members of the NWC, a 26-member group that oversees the day-to-day operations of the party, scheduled the meeting for 2 p.m. on Monday in Johannesburg.

Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa, 65, was elected as ANC leader in December, defeating Zuma’s preferred candidate and ex-wife, Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma. While Zuma’s second and final term is only due to end next year, his immersion in a succession of scandals has eroded support for the ANC and many within the party’s ranks want him to go before he delivers the annual state-of-the-nation address on Feb. 8.

“There is huge pressure on the ANC to rein in President Jacob Zuma once and for all to show that they are very serious about due process being followed and the fight against corruption,” Sethulego Matebesi, a political analyst at the University of the Free State in the central city of Bloemfontein, said by phone.

“It will be a numbers game. There is a huge possibility that President Zuma may not deliver the state-of-the-nation address.”

The rand was 0.5 percent stronger against the dollar at 12.0290 by 10:51 a.m. in Johannesburg on Monday. The currency is the best performer in the world since Ramaphosa was elected, with investors expecting that Zuma would be replaced early.

While Zuma, 75, has survived numerous efforts to remove him from office, he faces the first no-confidence motion in parliament on Feb. 22 without being head of his party. Pro- and anti-Zuma groups plan to stage rival marches on the ANC’s Johannesburg headquarters on Monday.

Source: https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-02-04/top-anc-committee-to-meet-after-talks-with-south-africa-s-zuma 

30 Jan

The Clock Is Ticking on the Zuma Era in South Africa

The clock is ticking on South African President Jacob Zuma’s scandal-ridden administration as his deputy, Cyril Ramaphosa, flexes his political muscles and shows he’s increasingly wielding state power to stamp out corruption and revive the economy.

While the ruling African National Congress’s top leadership has decided that Zuma, 75, must leave office — to win back voters and stoke investor confidence in the stagnant economy — without setting a deadline, newly elected party leader Ramaphosa and his supporters have moved decisively on two other fronts.

His office and the Ministry of Public Enterprises announced sweeping changes to the board and management of struggling state-power utility Eskom Holdings SOC Ltd. As well as deciding on Friday that Zuma must step down, the ANC National Executive Committee suspended the party’s pro-Zuma provincial executive committees in the provinces of KwaZulu-Natal and Free State that the courts said weren’t properly elected.

“It is as if Cyril is confirming that he has taken over the reins,” said Susan Booysen, a political science professor at the University of Witwatersrand’s School of Governance. “I would say Zuma will be gone in anything between 10 and 30 days maximum.”

Zuma’s exit would catapult Ramaphosa, 65, into the presidency and allow him to begin to repair an economy that suffered its second recession in almost a decade in 2017 and has struggled to mount a strong recovery. He’s also vowed to fight the graft that has marred Zuma’s administration.

An open question remains whether Zuma will step aside before Feb. 8 so that Ramaphosa can deliver the annual state-of-the-nation address. Zuma’s diary, released by the Presidency on Monday, shows he is still scheduled to present the speech and respond to a debate a week later.

Zuma announced on Sunday that Water Minister Nomvula Mokonyane will represent him at the inauguration of Liberian President George Weah. Ramaphosa is leading South Africa’s delegation to the World Economic Forum gathering in Davos this week.

To read the full article, click here.

26 Jan

Zuma- Gupta Ties Under Spotlight in South African Graft Probe

A South African commission of inquiry will investigate whether President Jacob Zuma played any role in the Gupta family’s alleged offer of cabinet posts to people including former Deputy Finance Minister Mcebisi Jonas and other claims that they influenced state decisions.

The inquiry will be guided by the report of the nation’s former Public Protector Thuli Madonsela, according to its terms of reference published in the Government Gazette on Thursday.

She ordered the inquiry into allegations that the Guptas may have influenced cabinet appointments and received special treatment for a coal business linked to the family and one of the president’s sons. Zuma and the Guptas have denied wrongdoing.

Jonas said the Gupta family offered him the position of finance minister, two months before Nhlanhla Nene was removed from the post, sparking a drop in the rand and the nation’s bonds.

Last month, Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa succeeded Zuma as head of the African National Congress and has pledged to clamp down on corruption in a bid to revive the ruling party’s flagging public support before general elections next year and boost investor confidence in the economy.

Some senior members of the ANC have called for the commission to probe allegations of undue influence over state decisions going back as far as 1994 and beyond, under the former all-white government. The terms of reference may be expanded or amended, according to the proclamation.

Madonsela said in November 2016 that Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng should appoint the head of the inquiry because the president had a conflict of interest.

Zuma said earlier this month he would appoint the commission and abide by a court ruling that Mogoeng must select its leader.

This was after the High Court in December rejected Zuma’s arguments that he alone can set up the commission and ordered him to pay the cost of the case. Zuma accepted Mogoeng’s recommendation that his deputy, Raymond Zondo, head the commission.

The commission must submit its report and recommendations to the president within 180 days of its commencement, according to the gazette.

Source: https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-01-25/zuma-gupta-ties-under-spotlight-in-south-african-graft-probe

25 Jan

Ramaphosa Sees Progress in South Africa’s ‘Mammoth’ Corruption Fight

South African Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa said the authorities are intensifying their attack on pervasive corruption in the state and are having “positive” discussions with investors about the future of Africa’s largest economy.

“The wheels of change are moving now and they are going to start speeding up,” Ramaphosa said Wednesday in an interview with Bloomberg Television at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.

“Cleaning up clearly is going to be quite a mammoth task, but we have to start somewhere. Our people are clamoring for a clean government, and that is what we are going to give them.”

Ramaphosa, 65, was elected leader of South Africa’s ruling African National Congress last month, positioning him to succeed President Jacob Zuma, whose almost nine-year tenure has been marred by scandal.

While Zuma’s second term is due to end in mid-2019, the ANC has said its newly elected top six leaders will determine when he should step down.

“We have taken a view that this is a very, very difficult matter,” Ramaphosa said, when asked if Zuma would serve out his term.

“We have decided we are going to manage this transition very carefully. What we don’t want to see is him treated with disrespect. We will manage it so well so that it does not divide the nation.”

Increasing Influence

The rand has rallied on optimism Ramaphosa can bring in change and revive an economy that sank into its second recession in a decade last year.

It’s the best performing currency tracked by Bloomberg since he won the party leadership, trading stronger than 12 to the dollar on Wednesday for the first time in almost three years.

A lawyer and one of the richest black South Africans, Ramaphosa has already shown his increasing influence over the government.

His office announced sweeping changes to the board of cash-strapped state power utility Eskom Holdings SOC Ltd. on Jan. 20, including the appointment of Jabu Mabuza, one of Zuma’s most outspoken critics, as chairman.

To read the full article, click here.