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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