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ANC leaders expected to ask President Jacob Zuma to resign

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Many in the ANC hope that removing Mr Zuma will boost the party’s chances in the 2019 elections

Leaders of South Africa’s governing ANC party are due to meet to decide the future of President Jacob Zuma.

The National Executive Committee (NEC) is likely to ask him to step down, says BBC Africa correspondent Andrew Harding.

ANC president Cyril Ramaphosa acknowledged on Sunday that the issue was causing “disunity and discord”.

Mr Zuma, 75, faces a number of corruption charges after nine years in power.


What did Mr Ramaphosa say?

“We know you want closure,” Mr Ramaphosa told a crowd, which had gathered to mark 100 years since the birth of the country’s first black president, Nelson Mandela.

“As you have all heard, the National Executive Committee of the ANC will be meeting tomorrow… and because our people want this matter to be finalised, the NEC will be doing precisely that,” Mr Ramaphosa told the rally in Cape Town on Sunday.

He acknowledged the ANC was suffering “a period of difficulty, disunity and discord”, and said he wanted to replace it with “a new beginning”.

He pledged to tackle the corruption that has marred Mr Zuma’s time in office.

Mr Ramaphosa urged South Africans to restore the values that Mr Mandela – also known as Madiba – stood for, and said those who had stolen state assets would be brought to justice.

“We must work together as Madiba taught us to push back the frontiers of poverty, unemployment and inequality,” he said.


What preceded these remarks?

An NEC meeting was called off last week following direct talks between Mr Zuma and Mr Ramaphosa, who is the deputy president as well as the new leader of the party.

Mr Zuma has resisted increasing pressure to quit since December, when Mr Ramaphosa replaced him as leader of the ANC (African National Congress).


What has Mr Zuma done wrong?

Mr Zuma’s presidency has been overshadowed by allegations of corruption.

In recent years his links to the wealthy India-born Gupta family, who are alleged to have influenced the government, have caused his popularity to plummet.

Both Mr Zuma and the Guptas deny the allegations.

Read more: Six reasons why Zuma is under pressure


What are the specific allegations against Mr Zuma?

  • 2005: Charged with corruption over multi-billion dollar 1999 arms deal – charges dropped shortly before he becomes president in 2009
  • 2016: Court orders he should be charged with 18 counts of corruption over the deal
  • 2016: Court rules he breached his oath of office by using government money to upgrade private home in Nkandla – he has repaid the money
  • 2017: South Africa’s public protector said he should appoint judge-led inquiry into allegations he profiteered from relationship with wealthy Gupta family – he denies allegations, as have the Guptas
  • 2018: Zuma approves an inquiry

Read more: The many trials of Jacob Zuma


Why hasn’t the ANC sacked him before now?

The BBC’s Lebo Diseko, in Johannesburg, says that it is worth noting that Mr Zuma has not actually been found guilty of any of the accusations against him.

The Gupta-related allegations have never been formalised, and the 18 corruption charges stemming from the 1990s arms deal have not been reinstated.

On top of this, Mr Zuma is still very popular, particularly in rural areas and his home region of Kwa-Zulu Natal.

Mr Ramaphosa may want to make sure Mr Zuma’s supporters do not feel he has been treated badly – especially as an election is coming up.


What happens next?

Correspondents say that if the NEC agrees to recall Mr Zuma, it would be very difficult for him to resist.

But he is not legally obliged to step down if they ask him to.

So, if he so wishes, Mr Zuma can carry on as president of South Africa even if the NEC asks him to step down.

Follow the latest updates on this story here


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