Tuesday, April 05, 2016

South Africa’s Zuma Expected to Survive Impeachment Motion in Parliament
Dominated by the president’s political party, parliament is expected to defeat impeachment move

Wall Street
April 5, 2016 7:08 a.m. ET

JOHANNESBURG—South African President Jacob Zuma is expected Tuesday to survive a motion in parliament to impeach him, as his political party continues to protect him from widening calls for his resignation.

Mr. Zuma is facing a barrage of corruption allegations, and an unprecedented high-court ruling last week that he flouted South Africa’s constitution has raised long-standing discontent with his leadership to a new pitch.

Yet Mr. Zuma’s party, the African National Congress, has repeatedly defended him, and because it still commands a wide majority in parliament, it is almost certain to deny opposition parties the two-thirds majority they need to unseat him.

Some party members say the president’s allies are worried about losing access to government jobs and contracts should Mr. Zuma be removed from office.

Julius Malema, a onetime Zuma protégé who now leads the populist Economic Freedom Fighters party, has vowed to mobilize street protests if the impeachment motion is defeated Tuesday.

“Zuma’s journey ends here,” Mr. Malema said last week.

Mr. Zuma, 73, has overcome many previous allegations of corruption and misconduct, including a 2006 trial for rape in which he was found not guilty.

But since Mr. Zuma led the ANC to an election victory in 2014 that secured him a second five-year term as South Africa’s president, the allegations have mounted and public outrage has intensified.

Deputy Finance Minister Mcebisi Jonas said last month that a business family close to Mr. Zuma offered him the job of treasury minister late last year. He turned them down.

Then Mr. Zuma tried to replace trusted Finance Minister Nhlanhla Nene with an inexperienced political ally, before reversing course three days later after the country’s rand currency plummeted to record lows.

Then last week, the Constitutional Court ruled in favor of Mr. Malema and another opposition party that had sued Mr. Zuma to make him comply with a 2014 order to repay some of the millions of dollars spent on upgrades to his private home.

Opposition leaders and many other South Africans have seized on the swimming pool, chicken coup and other amenities added to Mr. Zuma’s homestead at public expense as evidence the president is out of step with the concerns of his young and largely jobless constituents.

Since Mr. Zuma took office in 2009, the formal jobless rate has hovered around a quarter of the available workforce, and growth has plummeted from some 3% annually to barely positive territory.

A November poll by Afrobarometer, a survey firm, showed that mistrust in his leadership had doubled in five years to 66%.

Write to Patrick McGroarty at patrick.mcgroarty@wsj.com

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