By Hassan Isilow
JOHANNESBURG (AA) – South African President Jacob Zuma announced his resignation late Wednesday following calls from his ruling African National Congress (ANC) party to step down or face a no-confidence vote in Parliament.
“I resign as president with immediate effect,” Zuma said in a televised speech to the nation.
He said as a disciplined member of the ANC, he made the decision to resign even though he disagrees with his party’s verdict to remove him from office without giving reasons.
The ruling ANC announced Tuesday that it had decided to remove Zuma, 75, whose second term in office as president would have ended in mid-2019.
Zuma thanked his party for having nominated him to serve as president for two terms.
He cautioned his supporters to remain calm.
“No life should be lost in my name or the ANC divided in my name,” he said.
On Wednesday, Zuma told state broadcaster SABC he felt he was being victimized by top party officials handling his matter because they did not give reasons for his removal.
Pressure has been building on Zuma to step down since his deputy Cyril Ramaphosa was elected party leader in December 2017.
Zuma joined politics at an early age as a member of the ANC in 1959. He was arrested in 1963 together with 45 other recruits and jailed for 10 years at Robben Island Prison in Cape Town for attempting to overthrow the then apartheid government.
Zuma has survived nine no-confidence votes thanks to the ANC’s large majority in parliament.
He faces 783 criminal charges, including corruption, racketeering and money laundering linked to a 1999 government arms deal procurement program.
His tenure in office has been marred by several accusations of corruption. The ANC was due to hold a motion of no confidence against Zuma Thursday if he had not resigned.