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ANC leaders hold emergency meeting over Jacob Zuma

Author: The BBC
Jacob Zuma
Jacob Zuma

Jacob Zuma's future as South Africa's president is under threat as senior politicians hold an emergency meeting in Johannesburg.

Twenty of the African National Congress' (ANC) leaders are discussing Mr Zuma's tenure, a day after he reportedly refused to step down.

Pressure is now growing for Mr Zuma, who is facing corruption allegations, to go ahead of this week's State of the Nation address.

His term is due to expire in 2019.

Mr Zuma, who spent time in prison for his part in the fight against apartheid, met the ANC's top six on Sunday, who are said to have failed to convince him to stand aside.

He is most of the way through his second - and last - term as president, and was replaced as ANC leader last December.


Julius Malema, an opposition leader and former ANC member, said on Twitter that Mr Zuma had refused to go early.

Other unconfirmed reports from Sunday's meeting say that Mr Zuma asked for protection from prosecution for himself and his family.

Why does the ANC want to remove him?
Mr Zuma's presidency has been overshadowed by allegations of corruption.

In recent years his links to the wealthy-Indian born Gupta family, who are alleged to have influenced the government through their relationship with Mr Zuma, have caused his popularity to plummet. In South Africa, it has become known as "state capture".

Both Mr Zuma and the Guptas deny the allegations.

Then there is also the country's struggling economy, with the unemployment rate rising to about 28%.

As a result, many in the ANC fear his presidency has become toxic - and is hurting the party's standing.

That appeared to be borne out at the 2016 local elections, when the ANC lost ground to the opposition Democratic Alliance (DA) and Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF).

With a general election set for 2019, the ANC will be keen to distance itself from any more negative press - and therefore it is perhaps not surprising that Mr Zuma's deputy, Cyril Ramaphosa, was elected the party leader in South Africa in December on an anti-corruption platform.

However, Mr Zuma still has his supporters within the ANC - including three of the top six - so nothing is definite.

On Monday, there were scuffles out the ANC headquarters between small groups of pro- and anti-Zuma supporters.

Credit: The BBC