16 Feb 2018

South Africa's president Zuma resigns

5:45 am on 16 February 2018

South Africa's embattled President Jacob Zuma has resigned after being given an ultimatum by the ruling African National Congress (ANC).

South African President Jacob Zuma.

South African President Jacob Zuma. Photo: AFP

In a 30-minute farewell address to the nation, 75-year-old Zuma said he disagreed with the way the ANC had shoved him towards an early exit after the election of Cyril Ramaphosa as party president in December, but would accept its orders.

"I have therefore come to the decision to resign as president of the republic with immediate effect," Mr Zuma said.

"Even though I disagree with the decision of the leadership of my organisation, I have always been a disciplined member of the ANC," he said.

He had come under increasing pressure to resign amid numerous allegations of corruption. The ANC told him to resign by the end of the day or face a parliamentary vote of no confidence on Thursday.

During his speech, Mr Zuma said he did not fear exiting political office, and that no leader should stay beyond the time determined by the people they served.

"I must accept that if my party wishes that I be removed from office, they must exercise that right and do so in the manner prescribed by the constitution," he said.

"No life should be lost in my name. And also the ANC should not be divided in my name."

Following the announcement, the ANC said Zuma's resignation provided certainty to the people of South Africa.

ANC replaced Mr Zuma as party leader in December with Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa, and ordered Zuma to step down as president on Tuesday.

When he failed to resign on Wednesday, ANC announced it would back an opposition motion in parliament to force him out.

His resignation ends the career of the former anti-apartheid resistance fighter. He has four wives, a sharp tongue and a decades-long history of entanglement in scandals that polarised Nelson Mandela's "Rainbow Nation".

The rand currency, which has gained ground whenever Mr Zuma has hit political turbulence, soared more than one percent to a 2.5 year high of 11.79 against the USD during the day, as pressure piled on Mr Zuma to resign.

BBC / Reuters