Jacob Zuma resigns as President of South Africa with immediate effect

Jacob Zuma resigns as President of South Africa with immediate effect

Jacob Zuma resigns as President of South Africa with immediate effect

Updated 15 February 2018, 8:45 AEDT

South Africa's President Jacob Zuma resigns with immediate effect despite "disagreeing with the leadership" of the ruling African National Congress to bring an end to his nine scandal-plagued years in power.

Jacob Zuma has resigned as President of South Africa, heeding orders by the ruling African National Congress (ANC) to bring an end to his nine scandal-plagued years in power.

In a 30-minute farewell address to the nation, 75-year-old Mr Zuma nonetheless said he disagreed with the way the ANC had shoved him towards an early exit after the election of Cyril Ramaphosa as party president in December.

"I have therefore come to the decision to resign as president of the republic with immediate effect, even though I disagree with the decision of the leadership of my organisation — I am a disciplined member," Mr Zuma said in the lengthy speech.

A senior ANC official said Mr Zuma's resignation as head of state brings certainty to a country which has been gripped by political drama for weeks.

"This decision provides certainty to the people of South Africa at a time when economic and social challenges to the country require an urgent and resolute response," said the ANC's deputy secretary general, Jessie Duarte.

In a rambling television interview, his first response since the ANC announced it would back a no-confidence motion to strip him from office, Mr Zuma derided the decision and said he had been "victimised" by the party.

Mr Zuma said the ANC had not explained the reasons why it wanted him out of office.

Mr Zuma, a 75-year-old anti-apartheid veteran and Zulu polygamist, has been South Africa's most controversial leader since the end of white minority rule in 1994.

It was Mr Zuma's mastery of the ANC's internal dynamics that enabled him to survive for so long, but his political influence had been on the wane since Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa replaced him as ruling party leader in December.

As recently as August, after loyal MPs helped him defeat a no-confidence vote brought by the opposition, he cracked jokes and broke into song with a cheering crowd outside the South African Parliament.

He began his resignation statement in the same manner, making jokes with reporters as he walked to the podium before opening the address with laughter.

Reuters/ABC