The 'New York Times' leads international calls for Zuma's exit

In a damning editorial, the 'New York Times' said it’s time for the ANC's NEC to withdraw support for Zuma.

FILE: President Jacob Zuma in response to the debate on the State of the Nation Address, National Assembly, Cape Town. Picture: GCIS.

NEW YORK - The New York Times has led an international call for President Jacob Zuma's exit.

The influential newspaper published an editorial saying that his violation of the Constitution should have been the last straw in a string of scandals that has tarnished Nelson Mandela's African national Congress (ANC).

The scandal is arguably the biggest yet to hit Zuma, who has fended off accusations of corruption, influence peddling and even rape since before he took office in 2009. It comes ahead of local elections that could see the ANC lose support.

In a damning editorial, the New York Times said it's time for the national executive committee of the ANC to withdraw its support for Zuma and for him to step down.

"Cronyism, corruption and scandal have swirled around Jacob Zuma since before he became president of South Africa in May 2009, and the muck has only deepened since," the paper said.

Last year when Zuma fired Nhlanhla Nene, leading to a national outcry that forced him to install a more acceptable choice, the paper wrote an editorial calling the ANC to reexamine itself in order to build an honest government.

The paper further said "it is a shame that the ANC, the party of Nelson Mandela, is allowing its moral and political authority to be so grievously eroded by Zuma, instead of bringing his corrupt presidency to an end."

A report in 2014 identified a swimming pool, cattle enclosure, chicken run, amphitheatre and visitor centre as upgrades to the compound that were not related to security and that Zuma must pay for.

The opposition has launched impeachment proceedings against Zuma but these are unlikely to be successful because of the ANC's strong majority in Parliament.

However, some South Africans believe the scandal could still bring Zuma down by persuading some in the ANC, which has run South Africa since the end of apartheid in 1994, to abandon him.


At the same time, Anti-apartheid stalwart Ahmed Kathrada said he cannot continue to relate to a president who has been unanimously found to have failed to uphold and defend the Constitution.

Kathrada has released what he calls an "agonising" letter to Zuma, calling on Zuma to submit to the will of the people and resign.

The ANC said it will not comment on a letter addressed to the presidency.

Kathrada said he has been left with no choice but to speak out against Zuma, saying only his resignation will help the country out of the current crisis, not an apology.

Foundation director Neeshan Balton said the letter was sent to the president on Friday afternoon and the only reply was a note of receipt.

"Mr Kathrada was acting in the interst of the country and believes it will best for the country if the president can step down."

Constitutional law expert Pierre de Vos said voters should decide if they accept Zuma's apology instead of his resignation.

"If they do, then they'll vote for the party if the president leaves. But if he doesn't leave then they're going to vote for another party."

De Vos said Zuma was dishonest when he said he had always intended to pay back the money spent on his Nkandla home and it's strange for him to make the claim during his apology to the nation.


Amid this, the ANC said it is willing to apologise to the nation following a Constitutional Court judgment that found Zuma to have acted in an inconsistent manner to the highest law of the land, but does not believe it is obliged to do so.

The party has responded following the judgment on Thursday which found that Zuma and Parliament failed to uphold, respect and defend the Constitution through his handling of the Nkandla scandal.

The ANC has also come out in support of Zuma, saying it appreciates his apology and believes neither he nor Parliament intended to break their oaths.

The party's Secretary General Gwede Mantashe said the top six were unanimous in their response to the Constitutional Court's judgment.

Mantashe said the ruling party is willing to apologise if there is a need to do so.

"The ANC is willing to offer an apology, if we're called upon to do that, we'll do it."