VIDEO: ZUMA STEPS DOWN AFTER PRESSURE FROM THE ANCDate: 2018-02-15
The mood in South Africa today seems to be one of optimism as Cyril Ramaphosa takes the reins after embattled President Jacob Zuma resigns as head of state following intense pressure from the African National Congress (ANC) to step down.
Zuma just made the 48-hour deadline set by the ANC for him to resign after an intense few days of talks with the ANC's top 6, including Ramaphosa.
In the late-night live broadcast of his statement, he said he was quitting with immediate effect – although he disagreed with his ANC party's decision, saying, "I do not fear exiting political office. However, I have only asked my party to articulate my transgressions and the reason for its immediate instruction that I vacate office."
The 75-year-old, who has been in power since 2009, has been facing calls to give way to Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa, the ANC's new President. The ANC had told him to step down or face a vote of no confidence in parliament.
ANC chief whip, Jackson Mthembu, announced a parliamentary motion of no-confidence for Thursday should Zuma not comply with the ANC's request, and that Mr Ramaphosa would be sworn in as president shortly thereafter.
Mr Zuma, who faces numerous allegations of corruption, referred to the constitution on numerous occasions in his speech, saying that he governed within the prism of the Constitution and subscribed to its values.
Ironically, earlier in the day, the powerful and wealthy Gupta family home was raided and arrests were made, as scandals revolving around their relationship with Zuma and their involvement in 'state capture'.
Zuma made no mention of the raid when he held an unannounced interview with national broadcaster, SABC, on Wednesday afternoon.
He was clearly angry and upset during his interview with the SABC, rebuking the party's top six, describing the decision to recall him as "baseless and without fact".
It was with a very different tone that he addressed the nation later in the evening, joking with the media before his resignation saying, "Why do you look serious, you can't even say good evening. You are tired? We are working. He, he, he."
Zuma paid tribute to those with whom he had worked with over the years, before saying that "violence and division within the ANC" had influenced his decision to step down.
"No life should be lost in my name and also the ANC should never be divided in my name. I have therefore come to the decision to resign as president of the republic with immediate effect," he said.
"Even though I disagree with the decision of the leadership of my organisation, I have always been a disciplined member of the ANC.
"As I leave I will continue to serve the people of South Africa as well as the ANC, the organisation I have served... all of my life."
The ANC's Jesse Duarte spoke on behalf of many of Mr Zuma's supporters, saying "this is a very painful moment," later telling reporters, "President Zuma remains a principled member of the ANC. The ANC wants to salute the outstanding contribution he has made."
The majority of citizens on the streets of Pretoria were of a different opinion though, with many saying they're happy to see him go.
The ANC issued a statement saying Mr Zuma's resignation provided "certainty to the people of South Africa".
Deputy president and ANC leader, Mr Ramaphosa, is likely to step in and is expected to be sworn in as President on Thursday.
Watch the video below for reaction from the people in the streets of Pretoria after the announcement.