Thursday, February 21, 2019 | ePaper
Zuma on the brink as S Africa police target his allies
AFP, Johannesburg :
South Africa's embattled President Jacob Zuma has rejected a party request that he resign.
South African President Jacob Zuma was under intense pressure to resign Wednesday as police raided the Johannesburg home of a business family accused of overseeing government corruption under his rule.
Zuma was expected to respond to the ruling ANC party's order for him to resign-hours after police arrived on Wednesday at the Gupta family's heavily protected house in the upmarket suburb of Saxonwold.
"We have now left the compound. It is an operation that is ongoing related to issues of 'state capture'," police spokesman Hangwani Mulaudzi told AFP, referring to alleged corruption in state institutions.
Police said three unidentified people had been arrested in investigations into "Vrede Farm"-allegations that millions of dollars of public money meant for poor dairy farmers was syphoned off by the Guptas.
Zuma, who could be ousted in a parliamentary vote of no confidence if he clings to power, has "agreed in principle to resign", African National Congress (ANC) secretary-general Ace Magashule said Tuesday.
The power struggle over Zuma's departure has put him at loggerheads with deputy president Cyril Ramaphosa, his expected successor, who is the new head of the ANC.
"Recalling" the head of state is a party-level instruction that the 75-year-old Zuma is under no constitutional obligation to obey.
The ANC's national executive committee reached the decision on Tuesday after meeting for 13 hours at a hotel outside Pretoria.
A committee member confirmed to AFP that the president had asked for three more months in office, describing the request as "hogwash".
Local media reported that scandal-tainted Zuma was pushing for an exit deal that included covering his potentially ruinous legal fees from prolonged court battles against multiple criminal charges.
One case relates to 783 payments he allegedly received linked to an arms deal before he came to power.
Many graft allegations against him have centred on the wealthy Gupta family, who are accused of unfairly obtaining lucrative government contracts and even being able to choose Zuma's ministerial appointments.
Zuma has admitted he is friends with the three Gupta brothers, originally from India, but denied any wrongdoing.
Susan Booysen, a politics professor at Stellenbosch University, said she expected that Zuma would resign-albeit grudgingly.
"I think that he is an angry person... and he is very reluctant to go. His power could still hover in the background," Booysen told AFP.