JOHANNESBURG – South Africa’s President Jacob Zuma stepped down on Saturday as leader of the ruling African National Congress (ANC) party, giving a speech during its 54th National Conference in which he called for greater advances for the black population despite the fragile economic situation.
Zuma’s second and last presidential term is to end in 2019. His prestige has been damaged by several corruption scandals and a weakened economy.
“Despite the challenges of the day, the ANC still represents the hopes, dreams and aspirations of the millions of our people who are marginalized and who are concentrated in the periphery of our mainstream economy,” Zuma said at the NASREC Expo Center in Johannesburg.
During the five-day gathering, the ANC will select Zuma’s successor as party leader.
The favorites are the party’s deputy president, Cyril Ramaphosa, a successful businessman; and Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma, an ex-wife of Zuma’s.
During his farewell speech, Zuma reviewed the party’s current situation, the state of the economy and the challenges the ANC’s next presidential candidate will face.
“Being black and successful is being made to be synonymous with being corrupt. The ANC must promote black advancement and success and fight attempts aimed at frustrating and undermining black economic empowerment,” he said.
He mentioned unemployment, crime and unequal land redistribution, among other challenges, as the main obstacles the African country faces.
The party’s new leader is expected to be announced on Sunday after a secret vote.
The ANC, the party of Nelson Mandela, has won every election in South Africa since the end of apartheid in 1994.
Its new leader, therefore, will be the heavy favorite in the 2019 presidential election.