By Jessie Duarte*
A few minutes ago, Comrade Jacob Zuma announced to the nation that he is resigning as the President of the Republic of South Africa. This decision by President Zuma is consistent with what he had said earlier today that he has never and will never defy his organisation, the African National Congress. President Zuma remains a disciplined member of the ANC. In giving effect to the decision of the ANC National Executive Committee to recall him, President Zuma has reaffirmed his commitment to the principles, practices and character of the movement to which he has dedicated his life.
Having taken the difficult decision to recall Comrade Jacob Zuma, the African National Congress nonetheless wants to salute the outstanding contribution he has made and express its profound gratitude to him for the role he has played in the African National Congress spanning over sixty years of loyal service.
Whilst this may mark an end of his term of office as President of the Republic, we hope and believe Comrade Jacob Zuma will continue to work with the ANC as we undertake our program of fundamental organizational renewal and uniting all South Africans behind a shared vision of transformation and economic recovery. Comrade Zuma is the last in our line of Presidents to have worked closely with the longest serving President of the ANC, Comrade Oliver Tambo. He was trusted by Comrade OR and the ANC to set up underground structures of the movement. He also played a pivotal role in the peaceful negotiation of our transition from apartheid to democracy.
In our democratic dispensation, President Zuma rose through the ranks, first serving government as a Provincial Member of the Executive Council (MEC) in KwaZulu-Natal before assuming his role as Deputy President and ultimately, President of the Republic. While we acknowledge errors and mistakes that were committed, President Zuma leaves a legacy of delivery in many critical areas. Amongst them being the conceptualization and delivery of the National Development Plan (NDP), a long term plan towards our common prosperity and a first in our country. President Zuma’s passion for rural development saw his administration establish a dedicated ministry on rural development to further advance the ANC’s program of land and agrarian reform.
South Africa’s mass rollout of an anti-retroviral programme, which remains the largest and most comprehensive in the world, as well as initial steps to roll out the National Health Insurance (NHI) to create an equitable health system was undertaken during his tenure. These efforts have contributed significantly to an increase in the life expectancy of South Africans.
It was also under his stewardship that our country witnessed significant success recorded in education, with the expansion of access to basic and higher education for the poorest of the poor; year-on-year increases on the matric pass rate and the progressive implementation of fee free higher education for the poor and working class. President Zuma’s led government has also rolled out a massive infrastructure investment programme, which helped sustain growth during an economic downturn, providing vital economic and social infrastructure. These are but some of the many achievements and strides made under the leadership of President Zuma.
The ANC extends its gratitude to President Zuma for having served the country in this capacity for the last nine years, particularly for the contribution he has made to progress in improving the lives of ordinary South Africans.
While we accept the resignation of President Zuma, we reiterate that our decision to impose a recall was taken only after exhaustive discussions on the impact such a recall would have on the country, the ANC and the functioning of government.
This decision provides certainty to the people of South Africa at a time when the economic and social challenges facing the country require urgent and resolute response by all sections of society.
The ANC now expects all our deployed members of parliament to cast their vote for the ANC President, Comrade Cyril Ramaphosa, as the candidate the ANC will nominate for President, when Parliament convenes to elect a President of the Republic.
It is critical that South Africans are now united around the task of growth, job creation and economic transformation.
Finally, the African National Congress has received news of the passing of the leader of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) of Zimbabwe, Mr Morgan Tsvangiria. The ANC expresses its condolences to the family of Morgan Tsvangiria and all supporters of the MDC.
*Jessie Duarte is the Deputy Secretary General, African National Congress