Jacob Zuma Resigns as South Africa’s President
President Jacob Zuma of South Africa, a master tactician who survived a string of scandals and harsh court judgments during his nearly nine-year presidency, agreed on Wednesday to step down, repudiated by the governing African National Congress Party, cornered by opposition parties and abandoned by millions of voters.
In an address to the nation Wednesday night, Mr. Zuma said he was resigning even though he disagreed with the party’s decision ordering him to do so.
“I have therefore come to the decision to resign as the president of the Republic with immediate effect, even though I disagree with the decision of the leadership of my organization,” he said at the end of a lengthy address on television. “I have always been a disciplined member of the A.N.C.”
It is a humiliating end for Mr. Zuma, a charismatic anti-apartheid hero who was imprisoned on Robben Island with Nelson Mandela and was once the A.N.C.’s intelligence chief.
Initially he inspired hope in millions of South Africans, especially the poorest. But, tainted by numerous accusations of misconduct, he came to symbolize the corruption that flourished during his time in office.
Only hours before his resignation he had sounded defiant and aggrieved during a live interview with the state broadcaster SABC, after party leaders had threatened to remove him through a no-confidence vote in Parliament on Thursday. He had indicated strongly that he would not resign, saying the party’s effort to pull him from office was “unfair,” that he was being “victimized,” and that he had done nothing wrong.
The deputy president, Cyril Ramaphosa — whose election as A.N.C. leader in December set off a power struggle with Mr. Zuma — immediately became acting president. On Thursday, Mr. Ramaphosa is almost certain to be chosen by Parliament to become the nation’s fifth president since the end of apartheid in 1994; all have been members of the A.N.C.