South African President Jacob Zuma says ruling party leaders have not given him clear reasons for why he should resign, and calls his treatment “unfair.”
Zuma broke his silence Wednesday in a live interview with state broadcaster SABC as the nation awaited word on whether he would obey a ruling party order to leave office.
He said the ruling African National Congress has not followed party procedures in trying to unseat him. The ANC wants parliament to vote Thursday on a motion of no confidence if he doesn’t resign Wednesday.
“I need to be furnished on what I’ve done,” Zuma says. “What is this hurry?”
The president has not said whether he will resign.
The interview aired hours after South African police raided the home of a business family linked to Zuma. Agents from the Hawks, an elite police investigative unit, entered the compound of the Gupta family in an affluent Johannesburg neighbourhood. Three people were arrested in operations at various addresses, the South African Broadcasting Corporation reported.
The family is suspected of using its connections to Zuma to influence cabinet appointments and win state contracts, and has been a flashpoint for national anger over corruption in state enterprises during Zuma’s tenure. Both the Guptas and Zuma say they’ve done nothing wrong.
A judicial commission is preparing to investigate the alleged graft associated with the India-born Gupta brothers, who moved to South Africa around the time of the transition from white minority rule to democracy in the 1990s. One of Zuma’s sons, Duduzane, had a business relationship with the Guptas.
Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa is poised to replace Zuma, who is expected to face a motion of no confidence in parliament on Thursday if he defies his party’s order to step down. Zuma’s second five-year term ends with elections in 2019, but the ANC wants to remove him so that it has more time to recover the confidence of disaffected voters.
As the Gupta-linked investigation proceeds, Zuma could face corruption charges tied to an arms deal two decades ago. South Africa’s chief prosecutor is expected to make a decision on whether to prosecute Zuma on the old charges, which were reinstated last year after being thrown out in 2009.
In another scandal, South Africa’s top court ruled in 2016 that Zuma violated the constitution following an investigation of multimillion-dollar upgrades to his private home using state funds. The president paid back some of the money.