Jacob Zuma and Corruption: Complete Story of the Former South African President

Jacob Zuma and Corruption: Complete Story of the Former South African President

On Wednesday 14th February 1018, Mr Zuma bowed to the inevitable and resigned “with immediate effect”.

“I resign as president of the republic with immediate effect,” he said, “even though I disagree with the decision of the leadership of my organization … I have always been a disciplined member of the organization.” He added: “As I leave, I will continue to serve the people of South Africa as well as the ANC.”

Zuma, who had a little over a year to complete his tenure in office, was recalled earlier this week by the African National Congress (ANC). The ANC caucus on Wednesday had said it would vote him out in a vote of no confidence in Parliament on Thursday if he did not resign.

ALSO READ: South African President, Jacob Zuma resigns amidst corruption scandal

With Zuma’s departure, Deputy President and former tycoon Cyril Ramaphosa is expected to be sworn in as President Thursday.

The scandal-tainted leader made the announcement late Wednesday in a televised address to the nation.

Zuma says he has resigned despite his disagreement with the instruction of the ruling African National Congress party to leave office immediately. The ANC had been prepared to pursue a vote of no confidence in parliament on Thursday.

According to BBC, Jacob Zuma is the most colourful and controversial president South Africa has had since white-minority rule ended in 1994.

He has been a politician of nine lives, surviving a series of scandals which would have surely ended anyone else’s career.

He was facing his ninth vote of no-confidence in parliament before he left office.

For many years, it was unwise to write Mr Zuma off: His Zulu name, Gedleyihlekisa, means the one who smiles while grinding his enemies.

Background of Jacob Zuma’s Resignation

Zuma’s tenure has been marred by years of corruption scandals.

The private life of South Africa’s embattled President Jacob Zuma, who resigned after intense pressure from his own party, was as colourful as his political career.

Early Years of Jacob Zuma

A proud traditionalist, he was fond of swapping tailored suits for full leopard-pelt Zulu warrior gear, engaging in energetic ground-stomping tribal dances during ceremonies in his village.

At party rallies, he was often the first to break into tuneful song.

The son of a domestic worker, he had “a very strong appeal” to the working class and the poor, said Mr Sdumo Dlamini, head of the Confederation of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu), an ANC ally.

“He is a people’s person and he has grown through the ranks of the working class. He knows the suffering of the ordinary folk.”

ALSO READ: South African President, Jacob Zuma resigns amidst corruption scandal

Born on April 12, 1942, in Nkandla, a rural hamlet in KwaZulu-Natal province, Mr Zuma’s extraordinary journey inspires his loyal grassroots supporters.

Popularly referred to as “JZ”, the uneducated youngster rose through the ranks of the then-banned ANC, serving a 10-year stint as an apartheid-era political prisoner on Robben Island along the way.

After fleeing into exile, he became the party’s feared head of intelligence, charged with dealing with traitors and informants.

At Mandela’s memorial service in 2013, he was loudly booed by ordinary South Africans in front of world leaders.

Corruption in Jacob Zuma’s Government

Now aged 75, the former herdboy who fought in the anti-apartheid struggle, clung on to the presidency for as long as he could, despite a string of scandals.

He survived by building a network of loyal African National Congress (ANC) lawmakers and officials, and by trading on the party’s legacy as the organisation that ended white-minority rule.

Among the stains on his presidency which ended when he resigned on Wednesday (Feb 14) was the perception that he fostered a culture of government corruption.

He is also accused of having led the country into a quagmire of low growth, huge debt and record unemployment.

He stood down as ANC party chief at a conference in December but refused a party request to stand down as head of state a week-and-a-half ago, prompting his party to recall him.

As leader of the late Nelson Mandela’s ANC party, which has won every election since South Africa became a democracy in 1994, Mr Zuma easily won a second five-year term in 2014.

When he took the reins of the ANC in 2007 in a party putsch against ex-president Thabo Mbeki, Mr Zuma inherited a movement riddled with divisions.

ALSO READ: South African President, Jacob Zuma resigns amidst corruption scandal

Tensions have only deepened as the ANC has been accused of losing its moral compass.

As criticism of his reign mounted, Mr Zuma maintained a cheerful public facade, often chuckling when allegations against him were repeated.

But he was significantly weakened as increasingly senior ANC figures criticised him in public.

He was forced into a humiliating climbdown in 2015 after firing a respected finance minister and appointing a man widely seen as a stooge.

As the national rand currency went into free fall, Mr Zuma bowed to pressure and re-appointed Mr Pravin Gordhan, an admired former finance minister, to the crucial post.

In a tussle that symbolised his tenacious grip over the ANC, Mr Zuma fought on and finally got the finance minister of his choice in March 2017 when Mr Gordhan was ousted in a midnight reshuffle.

In 2016, Mr Zuma agreed to pay back some of the public money spent on his private residence at Nkandla – backing down in the face of a stinging Constitutional Court rebuke.

He has also been accused of corrupt dealings with the Guptas, a wealthy family of Indian origin, and allegedly granted them influence over his cabinet appointments.

That scandal also reached a climax on Wednesday when elite corruption police arrested several people at the Gupta compound in Johannesburg.

Mr Zuma’s tense relationship with his deputy president Cyril Ramaphosa came to a head this month when the movement to recall Mr Zuma from the presidency gained momentum on the week he was due to deliver a key parliamentary speech.

ALSO READ: South African President, Jacob Zuma resigns amidst corruption scandal

The event was postponed as Mr Zuma and Mr Ramaphosa tried to thrash out a transition deal to ease out the embattled head of state.

During Zuma’s time in power, South Africa was rocked by increasing social unrest over the failure to provide housing and basic services to the poorest in society.

Zuma is also still fighting a court order that could reinstate corruption charges against him over 783 alleged payments linked to a multi-billion dollar arms deal in the 1990s.

Parts from Straitstimes.com

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