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World

REUTERS
February 15, 2018

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Defiant Zuma holds on despite resignation order

JOHANNESBURG: The struggle for power in South Africa intensified Wednesday as President Jacob Zuma raged against a resignation order from his own party ahead of a vote in parliament set to throw him out of office.

Zuma, whose reputation has been stained by years-long allegations of graft, has been instructed to step down by the African National Congress (ANC) party.But the order is a party-level order and Zuma — a renowned political survivor — is under no constitutional obligation to obey.

Unless he resigns beforehand, parliament will hold a vote of no-confidence in the president on Thursday, when the ANC says its lawmakers will finally oust him from power. “It was very unfair to me that this (resignation) issue is raised,” Zuma said in an unannounced TV interview.

In a rambling 45-minute conversation, Zuma did not directly refuse to resign, but said that he disagreed with “the manner in which the decision is being implemented.” He repeatedly said he was not defying the ANC leadership, but added that “I don’t agree, as there is no evidence of if I have done anything wrong.”

ANC unveiled plans to sack President Jacob Zuma via a parliamentary no-confidence vote, hours after armed police raided the luxury home of his friends, the Gupta brothers, as part of an anti-corruption investigation.

In his first response to an avalanche of pressure from the African National Congress (ANC) for him to quit, Zuma - who has been dogged by scandal throughout his political life - proclaimed his innocence and said he was being “victimised” by Nelson Mandela’s former liberation movement.

“There’s nothing I’ve done wrong,” a relaxed but indignant Zuma said during a nearly hour-long interview with the SABC, South Africa’s state broadcaster.“I don’t think it’s fair. I think it’s unfair. “When asked point-blank if would step aside, he avoided the question and continued to allege a lack of principle in moves by the party’s National Executive Committee to oust him.

ANC chief whip Jackson Mthembu said Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa, whose election as head of the ANC in December marked the beginning of the end of Zuma’s tenure, could be sworn in as head of state as early as Friday.

“After we have voted for the removal of the President of the Republic tomorrow - and depending on the availability of the Chief Justice - we will also elect a new president,” Mthembu told a news conference in Cape Town.The rand, which has gained ground whenever Zuma has hit political turbulence, soared more than one percent to a 2-1/2 year high of 11.79 against the dollar.

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