Jacob Zuma: ANC suspends ex-South Africa president after rival party launch

Jacob Zuma: ANC suspends ex-South Africa president after rival party launch
Jacob Zuma in 2017.AFP

South Africa’s former President Jacob Zuma has been suspended by the ANC he used to lead, after refusing to vote for them and launching a rival party.

The governing African National Congress (ANC) announced its decision on Monday.

Mr Zuma’s new party, uMkhonto we Sizwe (MK), meaning “spear of the nation”, shares a name with the ANC’s former armed wing he once served in.

His nine years as president, starting in 2009, were dogged by scandal including major corruption allegations.

He also faces corruption charges over a 1999 arms deal. He denies wrongdoing in all cases.

South Africa’s current President, Cyril Ramaphosa, replaced him in 2018 and promised to clean up government. He now leads an embattled ANC into this year’s general election.

‘Rescue’ mission

At MK’s official launch in December, a statement was read on Mr Zuma’s behalf saying he would “die a member of the ANC” but not vote for it, adding that some of its leaders behave in an “un-ANC manner” and it was now his mission to “rescue” the “once-great movement”.

Mr Zuma has also launched highly personal attacks on his successor, and former deputy, Mr Ramaphosa.

The BBC’s Daniel de Simone in Johannesburg says many South Africans see Mr Zuma as representing what is wrong with the recent past, and with having tainted the ANC.

It is not yet clear how far this will translate into popular support for his new MK party at the ballot box, but it is likely to cost the ANC votes.

The ANC, which had its roots in the liberation struggle against apartheid, has governed South Africa ever since white-minority rule ended.

Mr Zuma, 81, had been a lifelong member of the ANC.

He joined aged 17 with no formal schooling and soon rose through the ranks of the ANC’s military and intelligence wings, followed by top posts in his home state of Kwa-Zulu Natal and ultimately the deputy presidency and presidency.

Correspondents say this year’s election is viewed by many as the most competitive since the ANC came to power in 1994.

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Source: bbc.co.uk

By David Ryckman