South African President Jacob Zuma resigns


Embattled South African president Jacob Zuma has said he is resigning “with immediate effect”.

In a press conference, Mr Zuma said he did not “fear exiting political office” after facing a no-confidence motion from his party, the African National Congress (ANC).

He said: “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.

“As I leave, I will continue to serve the people of South Africa as well as the ANC, the organisation I have served all of my life in it.”

Sky News’ Africa Correspondent John Sparks said Mr Zuma had become increasingly unpopular after facing a string of corruption allegations.

The country’s parliament was poised to remove the 75-year-old leader on Thursday and replace him with deputy president Cyril Ramaphosa.

The ANC – once led by Nelson Mandela – is desperately trying to resolve its leadership crisis and bounce back in popularity ahead of a general election next year.

ANC deputy secretary general Jessie Duarte said: “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.”

Hours before announcing his resignation, Mr Zuma gave a television interview in which he called efforts to get rid of him “very unfair”.

The former anti-apartheid resistance fighter, who has four wives, has been discredited by a number of corruption scandals and Mr Ramaphosa was chosen in December to replace him as ANC leader.

Mr Zuma is waiting for South Africa’s chief prosecutor to make a decision on whether he will face old charges of corruption tied to an arms deal two decades ago.

The 783 charges were reinstated last year after being thrown out in 2009.

The country’s top court also ruled in 2016 that the President had violated the constitution when he used state funds to pay for multi-million dollar upgrades to his private home. He repaid some of the money.

On Wednesday, police raided the luxury Johannesburg home of a business family linked to Mr Zuma.

The Indian-born Guptas are suspected of using their ties with him to influence cabinet positions and land state contracts. They and Mr Zuma deny any wrongdoing.