CONTENT PREVIEW
Country Risk

Progress on state capture investigations increases probability South African president will resign before parliament reconvenes

18 January 2018

Key Points

  • Deputy President Ramaphosa has utilised the ruling ANC’s birthday celebrations to set out a new policy programme and emphasise strong action on corruption and state capture.
  • The State of the Nation address on 8 February is a likely deadline for President Zuma to go, although Ramaphosa would prefer that the president opted to resign.
  • If Zuma does not resign, a quick exit will likely be forced by an ANC National Executive Committee vote, possibly followed by a parliamentary no-confidence vote.

Event

Controversial South African head of state Jacob Zuma is looking increasingly isolated after Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa has asserted his new authority as leader of the ruling African National Congress.

New ANC president Cyril Ramaphosa addresses supporters at the party's 106th anniversary celebrations in East London on 13 January 2018. (Mujahid Safodien/AFP/Getty Images)New ANC president Cyril Ramaphosa addresses supporters at the party's 106th anniversary celebrations in East London on 13 January 2018. (Mujahid Safodien/AFP/Getty Images)

South Africa’s ruling African National Congress (ANC) celebrated its 106th anniversary on 13 January 2018, with new party president Cyril Ramaphosa making the keynote address in East London. When President Jacob Zuma turned up 40 minutes late, the head of state was roundly booed. Ramaphosa, the national deputy president, silenced the jeers by saying it was a day for rejoicing, but noted, “This year we started things out on time, and this is a clear signal that things are changing.”

Ramaphosa then set out what he wants to change, after being narrowly elected at the ANC’s conference on 18 December 2017, ahead of Zuma’s preferred candidate, his former wife Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma. Although the ANC conference had voted in favour of land expropriation without compensation, Ramaphosa told investors this would not be done in a way that would impede economic development, agricultural production, and food security. He prioritised a social pact between government, labour, businesses, and communities to reignite growth and accelerate the process of transformation. Ramaphosa also emphasised the need for the intelligence services, police, and prosecutorial authorities to be strengthened because they had to be “at the forefront of the fight against corruption and state capture”.

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