Zuma must go: ANC recalls South African president

ANC has given South African President Jacob Zuma a new ultimatum to resign as head of state or risk being removed by Parliament.

The African National Congress executive, in a press conference on Tuesday, gave the president until end of Tuesday to step down.

"The ANC believe that this is an urgent matter that must be treated with urgency," ANC secretary general Ace Magashule said.

Magashule said the decision to recall Zuma was taken after exhaustive discussions.

"Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa must take over the presidency in line with our Constitution," he said.

The reported decision to "recall" him followed
marathon talks by senior party officials that continued into the early
hours of Tuesday.

If Zuma, 75, still does not budge, he will face a vote of confidence in parliament that he is expected to lose.

In power since 2009, he has been dogged by corruption allegations.

The
ANC has not officially confirmed its plans but party sources have
described them to South African media outlets and Reuters news agency.

Zuma has resisted increasing pressure to quit since December, when Cyril Ramaphosa replaced him as leader of the ANC.

Magashule delivered a letter to the embattled
president at his official residence in the capital, Pretoria, officially
informing him of the party's decision to "recall" him.

It is unclear how Zuma responded, and his office has not yet commented.

Earlier,
Ramaphosa left the meeting of the ANC's NEC to travel to Zuma's
residence, where he is said to have told the president he would be
"recalled" if he did not step down. He later returned to the ANC
conclave.

Read: Jacob Zuma: Time up for the South African cat with nine lives

What has Zuma done wrong?

Zuma's presidency has been overshadowed by allegations of corruption which he has always vehemently denied.

In
2016, South Africa's highest court ruled that Zuma had violated the
constitution when he failed to repay government money spent on his
private home.

Last year the Supreme Court of Appeal ruled that he
must face 18 counts of corruption, fraud, racketeering and
money-laundering relating to a 1999 arms deal.

More recently,
Zuma's links to the wealthy India-born Gupta family, who are alleged to
have influenced the government, have caused his popularity to plummet.

Both Zuma and the Guptas deny the allegations.

How likely is Zuma to quit?

Correspondents
say it will be very difficult for him to resist a formal request to
resign but he would not be legally obliged to do so and could
technically carry on as president despite losing the faith of his party.

However,
he would then be expected to face a confidence vote in parliament. This
has been scheduled for 22 February, but it could be held earlier.

Zuma
has survived other such votes but he is not expected to pull it off
again. A confidence vote would be considered a humiliating process for
him and the party.

South African media are calling President Zuma's seemingly inevitable exit "Zexit".

His predecessor, Thabo Mbeki, resigned in 2008, also after a power struggle with his deputy.

The deputy in question was Jacob Zuma, who took over the presidency the following year.

Read: ANC decides to remove Zuma as SA president – source

Also read: SA president Jacob Zuma could quit within days

Why is this happening now?

The
ANC was badly rattled by its performance at the 2016 local elections
when it won its lowest share of the vote since coming to power under the
late Nelson Mandela in 1994.

It wants
to project a fresh image for next year's general election. Having
served two terms in office (South African presidents are elected by
parliament), Zuma cannot legally return to power in any case.

On Monday, opposition parties called for an early election.

"Anyone
from the ANC that wants to lead this country, must get their mandate
from the people of South Africa," Democratic Alliance leader Mmusi
Maimane told reporters.

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