An Attempt to Force Out the 'Teflon President'

Ruling party wants President Jacob Zuma to step down; 'defiant' Zuma says no
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 13, 2018 8:03 AM CST
South African President Jacob Zuma addresses delegates at the delayed start of the ANC elective conference in Johannesburg on Dec. 16, 2017.   (AP Photo/Themba Hadebe)

(Newser) – A "battle for the soul" of the African National Congress is taking place in South Africa, a political analyst tells the Guardian, which reports the ruling party is trying to force "Teflon President" Jacob Zuma to resign—a request the "defiant" Zuma is rejecting. In what CNN describes as a "marathon meeting" that took place Monday into Tuesday, the ANC's executive panel opted to "recall" (a polite way of saying "make resign") the 75-year-old Zuma, who has been mired in corruption charges and overseen an economic decline in the country since he was elected to the presidency in 2009. The recall decision came after Zuma's talks with ANC chief Cyril Ramaphosa deteriorated over the past few days. However, Zuma reportedly has asked for between three to six months as a transition period, which the ANC is said to have refused.

Quartz notes Zuma is no stranger to facing opposition, though he has so far managed to rebuff any attempts to push him out (hence the "Teflon president" honors). That may not last, though, with what may come next being deemed a "nightmare option": a no-confidence motion in parliament against Zuma if he doesn't resign within the next 48 hours, per reports (the ANC hasn't confirmed a timeline). Ramaphosa is likely to become president if and when that happens—if Zuma resigns, he automatically gets the post; if a no-confidence vote happens, the ANC-majority parliament would likely pick him. That vote was originally scheduled for Feb. 22, but opposition pols may be trying to move that date up. An ANC press conference has been announced for Tuesday afternoon. Per the BBC, local media has already bestowed a nickname on Zuma's potential removal from office: "Zexit." (Read more South Africa stories.)

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