Jacob Zuma has resigned as President of South Africa, heeding orders by the ruling African National Congress (ANC) to bring an end to his nine scandal-plagued years in power.
In a 30-minute address to the nation on Wednesday night – during most of which it was not clear what his intentions were – the 75-year-old said he disagreed with the way the ANC had shoved him towards an early exit after the election of Cyril Ramaphosa as party President in December.
Zuma, who has been in power since 2009, faces many allegations of corruption and has been under increasing pressure to give way to Ramaphosa.
Earlier in the day the ANC told Zuma to resign or face a vote of no confidence in parliament on Thursday.
The president’s resignation as head of state brings certainty to a country gribbed in political drama for weeks, a senior ANC official disclosed to journalists .
“This decision provides certainty to the people of South Africa at a time when economic and social challenges to the country require an urgent and resolute response,” said the party’s Deputy Secretary General Jesse Duarte.
Earlier, Jacob Zuma murmured for about an hour about the ill treatment he had received at the hands of the ANC, saying it was “unfair” the party had told him to quit as proper procedure had not been followed.
The president was besieged by sleaze and corruption scandals throughout his nine years in power,becoming South Africa most controversial leader since the end of white minority rule in 1994.
He has come under fire over his ties to the Gupta family, whose members include three businessmen accused of using their friendship with him to amass wealth and influence government policy.
Earlier on Wednesday police raided the Guptas’ home and the family business’ holding company in Johannesburg.
State broadcaster SABC said one of the Gupta brothers had been arrested and a senior source in the judiciary said more arrests would be made.
The family, which moved to South Africa from India in the 1990s, has been accused of influence peddling and interfering with cabinet appointments, whilst Zuma and his political associates have been accused of milking the state for their own profit.
Jacob Zuma is known to still have hanging on him nearly 800 counts of corruption charges over a government arms deal from the late 1990s when he was deputy president.
He was found to have violated the constitution for failing to repay public money used to renovate his homestead but has so far escaped with giving a half-apology,though he eventually paid back more than half a million dollars.