The embattled South African leader is accusing going after all foreign agents backing his removal from office as a legitimate president. A defiant President Jacob Zuma survived a bid by some members of the African National Congress’s top leadership to order his removal from office, according to three members of the ruling party’s national executive committee (NEC).
In his closing address to the three-day meeting, Zuma said he would not step down, according to one of the committee members.
He accused foreign agents of being behind the attempt to remove him and said the issue of the NEC ousting him must never be raised again, the person said.
Pressure had built on Zuma to quit following his March 31 decision to fire Pravin Gordhan as finance minister in a cabinet reshuffle, a move that sparked public protests and cost the country its investment grade credit rating.
The decision will probably increase the chances that Zuma, 75, will survive a no-confidence motion called by opposition parties in parliament, whether or not the Constitutional Court orders a secret ballot for the vote. ANC lawmakers occupy 62% of the 400 seats in the National Assembly.
Divisions in the party have widened since the ANC suffered its worst-ever electoral result when it lost control of Johannesburg and Pretoria in a municipal vote in August.
Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa, who’s a rival to Zuma’s ex-wife to succeed him as party leader in December, said on May 21 that South Africa is threatened with becoming a “mafia state.”
Zuma, who’s presidential term ends in 2019, also survived a bid to remove him at the NEC’s previous meeting in November last year.
A study by eight leading academics from four of the nation’s top universities released last week found that Zuma and his allies, including members of the Gupta family who are in business with his son, had carried out “a silent coup” that had enabled them to raid state assets and reap billions of rand from government contracts. Zuma and the Guptas have previously denied such allegations.