Early in the week, news broke of the President of South Africa’s resignation after a 9-year-long presidential run, after the African National Congress (ANC) ordered an end to his reign on Tuesday.
The 75-year-old president, Jacob Zuma, resigned from his position of power with immediate effect, as he did not want to remain in power if the people did not want him to. Over the last week, Ramaphosa conducted several meetings with Zuma, hoping to prompt his resignation. After this failed, the ANC voted to remove him.
During his resignation speech, Zuma mentioned, “I have therefore come to the decision to resign as president of the republic with immediate effect, even though I disagree with the decision of the leadership of my organisation — I am a disciplined member.”
The change in political climate was anticipated, as the ANC conducted the 2019 presidential election at the end of last year. Cyril Ramaphosa was just elected to be Zuma’s likely successor, however many South Africans wanted Zuma removed from office earlier than expected. Zuma’s resignation that occurred on Wednesday night, allowed for Ramaphosa to take office the next day.
Zuma has been the country’s most controversial leader, being involved in numerous scandals and a declining approval rating since the early years of his presidency. It was during this time that public institutions were politicized and weakened, the economy grew into a recession and the unemployment rates hit an all-time high in the last 14 years.
ABC states that it was Zuma’s manipulation of the ANC’s internal workings that allowed him to remain president for as long as he did.
Ramaphosa was inducted after a parliamentary vote. He went on to seek comfort from the people, declaring, “our intent is to continue to improve the lives of our people.”
Ramaphosa was elected under the platform of combating corruption and bringing back economic prosperity to the country. In a statement by the ANC after Ramaphosa’s inauguration, they affirmed: “The African National Congress has full confidence in President Ramaphosa to build on the foundation laid and focus the country on accelerating our program of fundamental and radical socio-economic transformation.”
Following Zuma’s resignation, Ramaphosa, along with members of the ANC, will have to decide whether to take forward the pending case against Zuma for his past corruption scandals.
This change was long overdue, and Ramaphosa seems to speak with a voice of the people. Only through time will we learn what Ramaphosa will do for the people of South Africa. However, his platform and expression of morals and concerns foreshadow an optimistic turn for this country and its future.
That said, the hope is that South Africa will realize relief from its economic and environmental problems and prosperity under its new president. With this, it can also be expected that Zuma is held accountable for his actions, now that he is not protected by his title.