South Africa Challenges Zuma's Presidency
The President of South Africa-President Jacob Zuma-face a challenge about his leadership for the very first time in a meeting of top officials of the governing African National Congress.
The committee members met Monday evening, but there were no announcements of any action taken. Analysts had said it was unlikely that the president's critics would succeed in pushing for a vote of no confidence. Mr. Zuma is believed to still have strong support within the 104-member committee, which includes many loyalists appointed by him over his seven years in office.
It also deepened divisions with the cabinet and the party as President Jacob Zuma's government grapples with a poor economy, an unemployment rate of 27 percent and a possible downgrade of South Africa's national debt by credit agencies worried about poor governance.
Ralph Mathekga, a political analyst, said referring to the executive committee that this had been leaving President Zuma more weakened and more exposed because now, they have it on record and thus the members of the A.N.C's N.E.C were discussing a topic that was the elephant in the room.
President Jacob Zuma had been facing intensifying criticism of his leadership from within his own party. But until now, the criticism had come mostly from the lower ranks and from retired A.N.C. luminaries.
Since the A.N.C. lost major cities, including Johannesburg and Pretoria, in local elections in August, some active party leaders have distanced themselves from Mr. Zuma. He had been embroiled in one scandal after another since taking office in 2009. Last month, the public protector's office, a group charged with investigating official corruption and misconduct, recommended that Mr. Zuma's administration be officially investigated for corruption.
The said party is set to vote for a new leader next year. There are two contenders for the said position. One is Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, a former government minister and the chairwoman of the African Union Commission, is strongly supported by the A.N.C.'s rural branches, as well as its women's and youth leagues. And the other one is Cyril Ramaphosa, the current deputy president and a prominent businessman, is backed by the party's urban branches and the Congress of South African Trade Unions, the nation's biggest trade union federation.