South African Former Leader Motlanthe Says Zuma Should Step Down

  • Nation’s highest court found he breached his oath of office
  • ‘Anything is possible’ with vote on no-confidence motion

Former South African President Kgalema Motlanthe discusses the importance of the nation's credit rating and his belief that current President Jacob Zuma should step down. He speaks on 'Bloomberg Daybreak: Americas.' (Source: Bloomberg)

South African President Jacob Zuma should step down, his predecessor Kgalema Motlanthe said.

“Simply because the apex court, the highest court in the land, has judged him to have breached oath of office,” Motlanthe said when asked in an interview with Bloomberg TV on Monday if Zuma should resign. “That in itself makes it difficult for him to demand the kind of respect which would be able to rally and unite the various sections of the South African population.”

Zuma is coming under increased pressure from inside his ruling African National Congress after sweeping cabinet changes last week which sent the rand tumbling and borrowing costs soaring. Last March, the nation’s highest court found he flouted the Constitution by ignoring a ruling by the graft ombudsman that he must repay some of the taxpayer money spent on his private residence.

Motlanthe was the nation’s president between September 2008 and May 2009 after the ANC recalled Thabo Mbeki as the nation’s leader. He then served as deputy president to Zuma for five years until May 2014, when he was succeeded by Cyril Ramaphosa. Motlanthe unsuccessfully ran against Zuma as leader of the ANC at the party’s previous elective conference almost five years ago.

South Africa’s parliamentary Speaker Baleka Mbete said Sunday she’s considering a request to recall lawmakers to debate an opposition-sponsored motion of no confidence in Zuma after his cabinet changes that included removing Pravin Gordhan as finance minister.

“There are shifts, they are not yet seismic shifts, but there are tremors that indicate anything is possible when this vote of no-confidence is tabled,” Motlanthe said. “Investors should be encouraged that obviously the members of parliament would elect the next president of the republic and that they would have learned their lesson. It’s always important to elect someone who is honest and of integrity, and not an incorrigible person.”

Ramaphosa and Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, the former head of the African Union Commission and the president’s ex-wife, are seen as a top contenders to become the ANC’s next leader at the party’s December elective conference. The ANC has comfortably won every national vote since the end of white minority rule in 1994 and its leader will probably succeed Zuma as the country’s president in 2019.

“The current deputy president comes from the private sector, he has been a successful business person in the earlier days, he was general secretary of the biggest trade union in South Africa, the National Union of Mineworkers, and he has also been the secretary general of the ruling party,” Motlanthe said. “So he brings with him good experience.”

— With assistance by Sam Mkokeli

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