South Africa's ruling party has decided to fire President Jacob Zuma, but Zuma may not step down

South African President Jacob Zuma
(Image credit: Simon Maina/AFP/Getty Images)

Update 7:40 a.m. ET: South African President Jacob Zuma's ruling African National Congress party announed Tuesday afternoon in Johannesburg that it has ordered Zuma to step down. "We are giving him time and space to respond," ANC Secretary General Ace Magashule told reporters. "When we recall our deployee, we expect our deployee to do what the organization expects him to do. ... I don't know what will happen. Let's leave it to President Jacob Zuma." If Zuma steps down, party leader Cyril Ramaphosa will becoming acting president; if Parliament removes him and his Cabinet with a vote of no-confidence, the parliamentary speaker becomes acting president. Our original post appears below.

South Africa's ruling African National Congress party has decided to "recall" President Jacob Zuma, or remove him from office, a senior ANC official told Reuters and South African media on Tuesday. The ANC's executive committee reached its decision after 13 hours of tense discussions and a meeting between Zuma and his deputy and presumptive replacement, Cyril Ramaphosa. "Cyril went to speak with him," a senior ANC source told Reuters, and Zuma made clear he wouldn't resign within 48 hours, as demanded. "We decided to recall Zuma," the source said. "He hasn't been told yet."

The ANC will announce its decision at noon (5 a.m. EST), and if Zuma, 75, refuses the party's order that he step aside, he is expected to lose a vote of confidence in Parliament on Feb. 22, an embarrassment for both Zuma and the ANC. South African media is already calling the "Zexit" inevitable, BBC News says, and the only question is when and how Zuma leaves. Zuma's presidency, which began in 2009, has been marred by economic stagnation and widespread allegations of corruption. His fate was more or less sealed when Ramaphosa, a union leader, beat Zuma's ex-wife, Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, to become head of the ANC in December.

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