President Jacob Zuma resigned as leader of South Africa on Wednesday evening during a televised address to the nation.
“I resign as president of the republic with immediate effect,” he said, “even though I disagree with the decision of the leadership of my organisation … I have always been a disciplined member of the organisation.
“I have…come to the decision to resign as the president of the republic with immediate effect,” Zuma told reporters at the Union Buildings on Wednesday night.
Zuma’s time as president has been marked by controversy, ranging from his relationship with the controversial Gupta family, dropped charges of corruption and his acquittal on a charge of rape, to the upgrades to his Nkandla homestead.
He broke his silence on Wednesday afternoon for the first time since discussions to oust him started in a televised live interview with SABC.
The ANC caucus met on Wednesday morning on the outcomes of a meeting of the party’s national executive committee (NEC). ANC treasurer-general Paul Mashatile told the media afterward that they had given Zuma until Wednesday to resign. If not, the ANC would proceed with a motion of no confidence against him on Thursday to legally force him to resign according to the Constitution, he said.
ANC secretary general Ace Magashule and his deputy Jessie Duarte delivered Zuma’s recall letter to the presidential guesthouse on Tuesday morning.
Zuma’s much-anticipated resignation comes after the party’s highest decision-making body, the national executive committee (NEC), decided after a marathon meeting into the early hours of Tuesday morning that he should go.
The ANC called the urgent meeting following ANC president Cyril Ramaphosa’s direct talks with Zuma. An emergency NEC meeting, that was meant to happen last Wednesday, was cancelled by Ramaphosa after his Tuesday meeting with Zuma.
Ramaphosa replaced Zuma as leader of the ANC at its elective conference in December.
On Tuesday last week, Parliament’s presiding officers postponed Thursday’s State of the Nation Address (SONA) amid fears that it might descend into chaos.
“We wish to assure fellow South Africans and everyone affected by this decision that these actions are being taken in the best interests of Parliament and the country,” National Assembly Speaker Baleka Mbete announced at the time