South Africa ruling party confirms discussing Zuma exit

ANC Secretary General Ace Magashule briefs the press on the outcome of the latest ANC National Executive Committee meeting on January 22, 2018 in Johannesburg, South Africa. AFP PHOTO | GIANLUIGI GUERCIA  

South Africa’s ruling ANC party confirmed Monday that discussions were underway on President Jacob Zuma leaving office, but said no date for his departure had yet been agreed.

Mr Zuma has been under growing pressure to resign since he was replaced as head of the African National Congress in December by his deputy Cyril Ramaphosa.

The party executive “discussed this matter... there will be interaction between officials, President Zuma and (party) president Ramaphosa,” party secretary-general Ace Magashule told reporters.

“There isn’t any decision taken to remove Jacob Zuma,” he said.
“There are no timelines... we don’t do things that way, we engage, we discuss. We haven’t reached a decision that President Zuma must go or President Zuma must stay.”

Corruption scandals

Mr Zuma’s presidency has been mired in corruption scandals and tarnished by a weakening economy, with the party losing public support ahead of next year’s general election.

Ramaphosa’s supporters are keen for him to take over as president immediately and try to revive the economy before the election, when the ANC could lose its dominance for the first time since the end of apartheid in 1994.

Land reform

Meanwhile, Mr Ramaphosa has pledged to carry out the ANC’s organization’s policy of land reform.

The ANC remains committed to expropriating land without compensation, said Mr Ramaphosa.

The ANC’s land reform policy has been on the cards since 1994, when apartheid was brought to an end, but little progress has been made in redistributing land to blacks whose land was seized during the apartheid rule. 

Redistributing land among South Africans is a way to resolve the land question, Ramaphosa said at the Osuthu Royal Palace in Nongoma, Kwazulu-Natal Province, where he visited Zulu King Goodwill Zwelithini to brief him on the ANC’s 54th national conference in December, at which Ramaphosa was elected as ANC president.

In a bid to alleviate concerns about land distribution, Ramaphosa said land reform will be carried out in a way that will not harm the economy and the agricultural sector, or affect food security.

The ANC’s policy of expropriating land without compensation has given rise to concerns that redistributed land would be idle like what has happened in Zimbabwe where arable land was abandoned after it was seized from white farmers.

Economy growth

Taking land should not be equal to destroying the economy, Ramaphosa said, adding that taking land should be equal to making the economy grow and farm production grow.

“This gives us the options, the possibilities and opportunities to be able to move forward with addressing the land question and at the same time make sure that the economy of our country grows,” said Ramaphosa. 

Agriculture is an important sector for the economy, therefore it is possible for the country to begin a process of working the land while improving agriculture, said Ramaphosa.

The ANC-led government has been criticized for failing on its ambitious land reform target of transferring 30 per cent of white-owned land to black farmers by 2014.

This was a promise made by the ANC when it took power in 1994.

According to the government, only 8 million hectares of arable land has been transferred to black people since 1994, less than 10 per cent of the 82 million hectares available and a third of the ANC’s 30 per cent target.

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