South African President Jacob Zuma is under growing pressure to step down. He and senior members of his African National Congress (ANC) party held talks on Sunday, and party leaders are to hold an emergency meeting on Monday.
South African media report that Mr Zuma has defied his party and refused to resign as leader, but details of their meeting have not been released.
Mr Zuma, who faces corruption allegations, was replaced as ANC leader by Cyril Ramaphosa in December. Julius Malema, an opposition leader and former ANC member, said on Twitter that Mr Zuma had refused to stand down.
Julius Sello Malema twitted: “He refused to resign and he told them to take a decision to remove him if they so wish to do so because he didn’t do anything wrong to the country. He’s arguing that he complied with all legal instructions including paying back the money, what more do they want from him.”
Mr Zuma, who spent time in prison for his part in the fight against apartheid, is most of the way through his second – and last – term as president. Under his rule the civil service has expanded, HIV/Aids rates have decreased, and his plans for development have won support across the political spectrum.
But the Zuma presidency has been overshadowed by allegations of corruption and his deputy, Mr Ramaphosa, was elected the leader of the ANC party in South Africa in December on an anti-corruption platform.
What are the allegations against him?
- Mr Zuma is accused of corruption, fraud, racketeering, money-laundering and tax evasion.
- The 18 charges go back to the 1990s and relate to 783 payments made as part of an arms deal.
- Mr Zuma and other government officials were accused of taking kickbacks from the purchase of fighter jets, patrol boats and other arms. Charges were first brought against Mr Zuma in 2005 but dropped by prosecutors in 2009.
What if he doesn’t step down?
It could be hard for the ANC to recover, and party leaders appear to be trying to act before this week’s planned State of the Nation address to parliament and before a motion of no confidence a few weeks from now.
Analysts say party chiefs want to avoid a power struggle that could split the ANC before elections next year. Before meeting with Mr Zuma on Sunday, ANC chairman Gwede Mantashe said he wanted to ensure “stability in the country and stability in the ANC”.
On Monday, as senior figures hold a meeting to decide Mr Zuma’s future, protesters both in favour of and opposed to the president will be gathering in Johannesburg.
The party could decide to fire him from the presidency. There would be a certain symmetry to this, as he himself became leader of the party before his predecessor as president, Thabo Mbeki, was fired. They are expected to begin the process to remove Mr Zuma through a formal recall or by introducing a motion in parliament.
Author: Staff Writer