South African President Jacob Zuma is fighting for his presidency in the capital Pretoria as the ruling party’s highest decision-making body considers a motion for him step down. The meeting of the National Executive Committee of the ruling African National Congress was due to end on Sunday but was extended so that each of the 80 members could state their position on whether or not Zuma should continue as president.
The surprise motion for Zuma to step down was introduced by Tourism Minister Derek Hanekom.
The party’s executive committee has the power to recall Zuma as president of South Africa. In 2008 the committee recalled then president Thabo Mbeki after he was defeated by Zuma in the ANC’s leadership contest. Should the motion succeed, Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa is likely to take over the presidency from Zuma. However, Zuma is a wily political survivor. Earlier this year he survived being recalled after South Africa’s highest court ruled that he violated his oath of office by refusing to refund public money spent to upgrade his rural homestead.
But Zuma has come under mounting pressure to resign in recent months after allegations that he was using his position to benefit the wealthy Gupta family, Indian immigrants who are in business with members of his family. Zuma was also blamed after the ANC lost the major municipalities of Johannesburg and Pretoria to the main opposition party in local elections in August.