/ 28 November 2016

President Jacob Zuma’s job in peril as the ANC split on ousting him

For the first time since Zuma became president
For the first time since Zuma became president

Jacob Zuma’s future as president of South Africa hangs in the balance as an increasing number of his governing party’s National Executive Committee members backed a motion for him to step down.

The move to oust Zuma has significant support in the African National Congress’s executive committee and it’s difficult to say whether he will survive as the nation’s president, said a senior party official who’s in a meeting of the group and spoke on condition of anonymity. The committee has the power to order Zuma to resign as president of the country, not as leader of the ANC.

Tourism Minister Derek Hanekom, who proposed the motion at the meeting of the committee on Saturday, Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi and Public Works Minister Thulas Nxesi asked Zuma to resign, the Johannesburg-based news agency News24 reported, citing unidentified people with knowledge of the matter. The three cabinet members were supported by the ANC chief whip, Jackson Mthembu, News24 said.

While Zuma, 74, has survived moves against him in the ANC before, that members of his cabinet proposed the motion and that the discussion continues, suggest his support may be waning. Zuma is scheduled to step down as leader of the ANC in December next year and his second term as president ends in 2019. Calls for him to quit have multiplied as political missteps and a feud with Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan over the tax collection agency roil markets. Compounding his woes is a top court ruling that he violated his oath of office by refusing to repay taxpayer funds spent on upgrading his private home.

Political risks

The rand strengthened the most against the dollar among 31 major and emerging-market currencies tracked by Bloomberg. It climbed 1.6 percent against the dollar to 13.8880 by 10:07 a.m. in Johannesburg.’

Pressure on the president to resign has mounted since the graft ombudsman released a report on November 2 that implied Zuma may have let members of the Gupta family, who are his friends and in business with Zuma’s son, influence cabinet appointments, and called for a judicial inquiry commission to determine whether there had been any wrongdoing. Zuma and the Guptas deny intentionally violating any laws.