Ramaphosa replaces South Africa’s Zuma
JOHANNESBURG – Reuters
South Africans awoke to a nation without Jacob Zuma as president for the first time in nine years yesterday, after the scandal-plagued head of state reluctantly resigned on orders from the ruling African National Congress (ANC).
Acting president Cyril Ramaphosa was due to be confirmed as Zuma’s permanent successor, ANC chief whip Jackson Mthembu said.
The road back to prosperity and self-respect under Ramaphosa, who became ANC head in December, will be long and hard in a nation divided by race and inequality.
But Zuma’s departure offers evidence of the strength of South Africa’s institutions, from the courts to the media and the constitution. He resigned as president late on Wednesday after nine years in office.
The 75-year-old said in a 30-minute farewell address to the nation he disagreed with the way the ANC had pushed him towards an early exit after Ramaphosa replaced him as party president, but would accept its orders.
“Defiant in defeat” and “Going, Going, Gone” were some of the newspaper headlines that captured Zuma’s reluctance to leave.
“South Africa’s long nightmare is over,” read the headline of an analysis on online news site Daily Maverick.
The foundation set up to guard the legacy of the late anti-apartheid icon Nelson Mandela said on Thursday Zuma’s resignation brought to an end “a painful era for the country.”
The ANC hailed Zuma’s decision to resign. Ramaphosa is scheduled to fill his role until elections next year.