South Africa: ANC dumps former President Jacob Zuma

The decision comes after Zuma decided to form a new party to participate in the upcoming elections.

The ANC, South Africa’s ruling party, has suspended its former leader and president Jacob Zuma. He had launched a new political party and refused to support the ANC in the upcoming elections.

The ANC made the announcement on Monday, saying that Zuma and others who violated the party’s values and principles would be expelled.

Zuma was president from 2009 to 2018, but his tenure was marred by scandals and corruption allegations. A state inquiry found that he had favoured his cronies over the national interest, in what was called “state capture”. He was also imprisoned in 2021 for defying the inquiry. He faces another trial over a 1999 arms deal. He denies any wrongdoing.

The ANC had tolerated Zuma until he formed a new party, uMkhonto we Sizwe (MK), which means “spear of the nation”. The name is the same as the ANC’s former military wing, which Zuma was part of. The ANC accused Zuma of abusing the legacy of the anti-apartheid struggle and undermining the ANC’s support base.

Zuma’s successor, President Cyril Ramaphosa, who took over in 2018 with a pledge to reform the government, now leads a weakened ANC into this year’s elections.

At the launch of MK in December, Zuma said he would remain an ANC member but not vote for it. He claimed that some ANC leaders were acting against the party’s spirit and that he wanted to “rescue” the “once-great movement”.

Zuma has also attacked Ramaphosa personally, calling him a traitor and a puppet.

The BBC’s Daniel de Simone in Johannesburg says that many South Africans blame Zuma for the ANC’s decline and corruption.

But Zuma still has loyal followers. Thousands of people protested violently when he was jailed in 2021, and a recent poll suggests that nearly a third of South Africans approve of him.

It is unclear how much support Zuma’s new party will get in the elections, but it is expected to hurt the ANC’s chances.

The ANC has been in power since 1994, when apartheid ended and democracy began. Zuma, 81, had been a member of the ANC since he was 17. He had no formal education, but rose through the ranks of the ANC’s military and intelligence branches. He later became the deputy president and then the president.

Some observers say that this year’s elections will be the most competitive since the ANC came to power in 1994.

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