President Jacob Zuma has stepped down as the President of South Africa. In a press briefing today, Zuma tendered his resignation and said: “I have 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.”
In a speech that lasted 15 minutes Zuma said, “I am forever indebted to the ANC, the liberation movement I’ve served almost all my life. I respect each member and leader of this glorious movement. I respect its gallant fight against centuries of white minority brutality.
“I do take seriously and am grateful to the ANC that in the face of its revolutionary mission to ensure a better life for all and the creation of a non racial, non sexist and democratic SA, it deployed me to the pinnacle of its role in government.
“All my live I have served and will continue to serve the ANC.
“I respect the prescripts of the Constitution and its consequences. How we enter, stay in and exit political office and government. There has been much speculation how president of republic should exit.
“In my case, some have dared to suggest that post-service benefits should determine how one chooses to vacate political office. Often these concerns about perks and benefits are raised by the same people seeking to speak as paragons of virtue.
“If we avail ourselves to serve in terms of the Constitution, we should be prepared if those we serve deem it appropriate to suffer the hardship that comes with constitutional obligations. Losing benefits should not determine how we act.
“I did not agree to serve in order to exit with tax and benefits of the office of the president.
“There has been much speculation on how the President of SA should vacate the office. Most importantly I did not agree to serve in order to exit because of perks and benefits of service in the office.”
Zuma says there was an agreement that if he should leave before his term end there should be a transition period where some duties are delegated to deputy president Cyril Ramaphosa.
“I fear no motion of no confidence or impeachment for they are the lawful mechanisms for the people of this beautiful country to remove their president. I have served the people of SA to the best of my ability. I am forever grateful that they trusted me.
“I also thank citizens of SA for privilege of serving as president since 2009. It has been an honour that I will cherish as long as I live. I wish to thank members of Cabinet, deputy ministers and whole of government.”
If he didn’t resign today, the ANC said a motion of no confidence would be brought against him in parliament tomorrow.
Earlier today the ANC gave the president until today to resign or face a motion of no confidence.
They accused Zuma of defying the ANC by not stepping down after he was recalled by the party on Tuesday.
“I am not defying. I have said no, I don’t agree with the decision, that is not defiance, that is the wrong message they are giving out there,” said Zuma earlier.
He also criticised the current ANC leadership saying the decisions have been ‘nilly willy’ and not thought out thoroughly. He touched on the recall of President Thabo Mbeki and the problems it created when he was removed from office.
Zuma says leadership of ANC may cause a bigger problem than they may think by removing him. “I hope they will know how to handle the organisation,” he said of the party.
A new president is expected to be sworn in on Friday morning and the State of the Nation Address might be held as early as Friday evening.
The ANC has said that the new president will deliver the SONA ahead of the budget speech next Wednesday.