JOHANNESBURG – Jacob Zuma announced on Wednesday that he was stepping down as president of South Africa on the order of his party, the African National Congress, which has governed the country since 1994.
“No life should be lost in my name. The ANC should never been divided in my name. I have therefore come to the decision to resign as president of the republic with immediate effect,” the 75-year-old Zuma said in a televised speech.
The resignation came hours after he had vowed not to step down despite a threat from his ANC colleagues to bring a no-confidence motion in parliament.
The deputy president, ANC leader Cyril Ramaphosa, is set to become acting head of state pending elections set for 2019.
Ramaphosa, a former union official turned business mogul, had been pressing Zuma to go since winning the party leadership election in December.
“I fear no motion of no confidence or impeachment. I will continue to serve the people of South Africa and the ANC. I will dedicate my life to continuing to work for the execution of the policies of our organization,” Zuma told the nation.
Zuma’s nearly 10 years in power have been marked by a series of corruption and it was after the arrest of two people implicated in yet another corruption case involving the president that the ANC executive committee gave him until midnight Wednesday to resign.