Zuma: I resign as president of SA

Jacob Zuma He says that his decision follows his recalling by the ANC NEC and weeks of speculation about his future as president.

President Jacob Zuma. Picture: AFP.

JOHANNESBURG - President Jacob Zuma has resigned as the President of the Republic of South Africa.

Zuma has addressed the media on Wednesday night at the Union Buildings in Pretoria.

“I have therefore come to the decision to resign as president with immediate effect. Even though I disagree with the decision of the leadership of my organization. I have always been a disciplined member of the ANC.”

He says that his decision follows his recalling by the African National Congress' national executive committee on Tuesday and weeks of speculation about his future as president.

Zuma says he will continue to be involved in the party and work for the promotion of projects he believes in, such as radical economic transformation.

He says being president has been a great learning experience and a mammoth task.

“I have and will continue to serve the ANC. I understand fully that while I serve at the pleasure of the party, the door through which I came is the National Assembly without which no political party can impose its people to the electorate.”

WATCH: President Jacob Zuma resigns

Zuma says political office benefits should not determine how one acts at the time of their departure.

“I did not agree to serve in order to exit with the perks and benefits of being president. No leader should stay beyond the time determined by the people they serve, no leader should seek an easy way out.”

He says he does not fear exiting political office, he only asked his party to articulate transgressions and the reasons for its instruction that he vacate office.

“There was an agreement that if the need arises that I vacate office, there must be a transition period. I must accept that the party can exercise the right to remove me in the manner prescribed by the Constitution.”

He says he fears no motion of no confidence or impeachment because they are the prescripts of the constitution.
“The ANC is indeed the party of whose nomination I became a candidate for the Presidency of the Republic of South Africa.”

He says he is forever indebted to the party and that he respects its fight for equality.

“I respect each and every member of the ANC and its work as a liberation movement.”

Zuma says he takes seriously and is grateful to the ANC that in the face of its revolutionary mission, it ensured a better life for all and curated a non-sexist and non-racial South Africa.

Ever since Cyril Ramaphosa was voted in as the new ANC president in December 2017, Zuma has faced increased pressure to step down, both from opposition parties and those within the ranks of his own party, as well as civil society groupings and NGOs.

Now 75, Zuma’s political career has spanned almost six decades, with him having joined the ANC as a teenager.

He served time in jail as a political prisoner and also spent time in exile, before becoming a junior minister in the country’s first democratic government.

Zuma was appointed deputy president of South Africa in 1999, but was fired in 2005 by then President Thabo Mbeki after Schabir Shaik was convicted of arms deal corruption.

But in December 2007 he went on to defeat Mbeki in Polokwane and began his term as ANC president.

Following general elections, Zuma assumed the highest office in the land on 9 May 2009 and delivered his first Sona as president on 3 June 2009, opening with the following lines:

“Our nation has over the past few years gone through very challenging times.

“It is thanks to the fact that we have a strong and fully functional constitutional democratic system, with solid institutions, that we overcame these difficulties smoothly and with dignity."

Controversy has characterised Zuma’s political career, from facing charges of rape (for which he was acquitted) to avoiding a corruption trial, the Nkandla scandal and accusations of involvement in state capture.

He has survived six motions of no confidence and one impeachment attempt in Parliament.

In December 2017, Zuma and his camp lost their powerful grip on the governing party when his deputy Ramaphosa took over as president, marking the beginning of the end for Zuma.