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South African President Jacob Zuma quits, Ramaphosa is acting President

Zuma announced his resignation in a 30-minute farewell address to the nation on late Wednesday, just an hour before the deadline set for him by the ANC

IANS  |  Johannesburg 

Jacob Zuma
Jacob Zuma Photo: AP

Jacob Zuma, who survived a string of corruption scandals and harsh court judgments during his nearly nine-year presidency, has quit finally after intense pressure from the ruling (ANC).

Deputy President and ANC's new leader is now the acting President until the National Assembly elects a new President' South Africa's Times Live reported.

Despite an earlier show of defiance, Zuma announced his resignation in a 30-minute farewell address to the nation on late Wednesday, just an hour before the deadline set for him by the ANC, in an effort to avoid dividing the party.

Zuma said he was resigning even though he disagreed with the ANC's decision.

"No life should be lost in my name and also the ANC should never be divided in my name. I have therefore come to the decision to resign as President of the republic with immediate effect even though I disagree with the decision of the leadership of my organisation. I have always been a disciplined member of the ANC," he said.

He said he wished to be removed in line with the Constitution, the BBC reported.

Zuma, a former member of the ANC's military wing in the days of apartheid, rose through the ranks of the party to become the President. He led the country for more than a third of its time after apartheid.

But he leaves office with several scandals hanging over him and with South Africa's economy in dire straits.

He apologized to the nation for the errors committed during his term in office. Speaking in Zulu, he said he believed he had performed the task given to him by the country, but where he had erred, "may I please be forgiven".

Zuma said he would continue to serve the party and the country.

The ANC said Zuma's resignation provided "certainty to the people of South Africa".

Influence peddling in his administration was so widespread, according to the nation's former public protector, that it became a form of state capture in which Zuma's business partners or friends influenced government decisions for their personal interest.

His resignation ended an extraordinary day in the South African politics, which had begun with a dawn raid on the controversial Gupta family — a clan of Indian-born businessmen — at the centre of the graft allegations levelled against Zuma.

The Guptas have been accused of "state capture" — using their close ties with Zuma to influence ministerial appointments, secure multi-million dollar government contracts and gain access to inside information.

Meanwhile, acting President Ramaphosa said was coming out of a "period of uncertainty, a period of darkness and getting into a new phase".

Neeshan Balton, the executive director of the Ahmed Kathrada foundation, an NGO dedicated to the values of the freedom struggle, said Zuma's resignation would be greeted by a "sigh of relief from all South Africans".

"For the first time in almost a decade, South Africans can rejoice that the sun has set on the Zuma era.

We can finally celebrate that the President, who had become a symbol of the erosion of state integrity, has left office," he said. His many scandals

ARMS DEAL: Zuma is still fighting 783 counts of corruption over a 30 billion rand (now $2.5 billion) government arms deal arranged in the late 1990s when he was deputy president. The charges were set aside in 2009, but were re-instated in 2016. RAPE ACCUSATION: Zuma was charged with raping Fezekile “Khwezi” Kuzwayo, the HIV +ve daughter of a friend who had been imprisoned on Robben Island with Zuma during the apartheid era. He was acquitted in 2006. NKANDLA UPGRADES: Soon after becoming president, it emerged that millions of dollars of public money had been spent on upgrades to Zuma’s Nkandla home, including a swimming pool that one minister justified as a fire-fighting resource. He paid back more than $500,000 after unsuccessfully trying to argue his case in court. SONONO KHOZA: Zuma apologised to South Africans in 2010 after fathering a child out of wedlock with his friend Irvin Khoza’s daughter, Sonono Khoza. ‘CLEVER BLACKS’: He caused a controversy in 2012 for scolding black people “who become too clever” in an address to South Africa’s National House of Traditional Leaders, saying “they become the most eloquent in criticising themselves about their own traditions”. WATERKLOOF LANDING: Zuma’s friends, the Gupta brothers, used the top-security Waterkloof air base to fly in 200 wedding guests from India for a family member’s wedding in 2013, sparking a public outcry. NENEGATE: He fired finance minister Nhlanhla Nene in December 2015, replacing him with unknown parliamentary backbencher Des van Rooyen. Zuma was forced re-appoint a previous finance minister, Pravin Gordhan, four days later after the rand collapsed. ELECTORAL DEBACLE: The ANC lost its grip on local government in three metropolitan areas in 2016, the ruling party’s worst election result since the end of white minority rule in 1994. “STATE CAPTURE”: In 2016, the Public Protector, South Africa’s main anti-corruption watchdog, published a report entitled “State of Capture” alleging the Guptas had tried to influence the appointment of cabinet ministers and were unlawfully awarded state tenders.

First Published: Thu, February 15 2018. 16:28 IST