South Africa’s Ruling Party In Crisis As Calls For Zuma’s Resignation Increase

Written by Kevin Mwanza

Members of African National Congress (ANC), South Africa’s ruling party, marched to the party’s headquarters on Monday demanding the resignation of President Jacob Zuma, a move that has split the party into two factions.

The protesters were however met by supporters of Zuma and hundreds of Umkhonto we Sizwe (military veterans) who stood guard as others remained scattered around the Beyers Naude Square, which houses the party’s national headquarters in Johannesburg.

The protest, dubbed #OccupyLuthuliHouse led to a physical confrontation with Zuma’s supporters. It took the intervention of police to prevent possible violence, Daily Maverick reported.

Zuma’s helm at ANC and the nation has come under pressure in recent time, as critics accuse him of apartheid tactics to fight political opposition amid multiple scandals that have hit him since December, last year.

Party members who took part in Monday’s protests decried the use of state machinery to intimidate them from opposing Zuma. They claimed that a pro-Zuma group, #DefendLuthuliHouse had threatened them.

“We must reiterate that these tactics and degree of paranoia is no different from those sanctioned by the apartheid regime which our glorious organization vehemently fought against,” a statement sent to The Times read.

The party also performed dismally in the municipal elections held last month, where it lost in key regions such as Nelson Mandela Bay, Tshwane and Johannesburg, its worst results since the nation became independent in 1994, News Week reported.

Zuma’s last term in office has faced several scandals since December, last year when he fired Nhlanhla Nene as the Finance minister, a move that saw the Rand plunge into crisis as investors’ doubts grew.

The current minister, Pravin Gordhan is facing a battle against the elite Hawks police unit after failing to honor summonses over a rogue tax unit set up in 2007 during his tenure as commissioner for South African Revenue Service (Sars).

The summons were described by critics as attempts by the Zuma administration to oust Gordhan and appoint a new minister who would agree to several projects that the current Finance minister disapproved.

In March, the court found Zuma guilty of wasting public money in upgrading his Nkandla private residence. He had refused to pay R240 million ($16million) that was used in the project.

Zuma is also facing about 800 corruption charges that further fueled the opposition against him. The charges were initially dropped by the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) in 2009, allowing him to run for presidency.

Under Zuma’s leadership, experts warned that political patronage spells doom to the nation with the current economy performing dismally and high unemployment rates, Mail & Guardian Africa reported.