Jacob Zuma refuses ANC's decision to resign

The South African president refused the African National Congress plea to resign, demaning a three month notice period 

South African President Jacob Zuma has defied an ultimatum from the country’s ruling party to resign within 48 hours, pitching the nation into an unprecedented political crisis.

The African National Congress (ANC) formally asked Zuma to resign after he had refused to do so earlier, reports said.

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

After nearly 10 hours of heated debate, Ramaphosa and a key ally of Zuma left the meeting shortly before midnight to drive to the president’s official residence to deliver an ultimatum: stand down or face “recall”, a technical term for the process of forcing an ANC official to leave their post.

However Zuma demanded a three month “notice period” before resigning, one ANC official briefed on the conversation said on condition of anonymity.

Zuma, 75, will now face a vote of confidence in parliament that he is expected to lose. This has been described as a “nightmare option” for the party by commentators.

A press conference has been announced at ANC headquarters in Johannesburg at noon local time on Tuesday.

Zuma retains significant support inside the party and at a local level in many parts of South Africa. Ralph Mathekga, a political analyst and author, said: “Zuma is not just a person. He is a system. There are a whole lot of people whose politics fortunes are tied to his.

“We are watching a battle for the soul of the ANC. It’s a referendum on the true balance of power within the party.”

If Zuma is ousted by a no-confidence vote, the speaker of parliament will serve as an interim president until elected representatives chose a new head of state. The ANC has a majority in parliament and it is almost certain Ramaphosa would be selected.

Zuma is under pressure over corruption allegations during his presidency, which started back in 2009.

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.

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.

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