Jacob Zuma. Picture: ELMOND JIYANE
Jacob Zuma. Picture: ELMOND JIYANE

The reaction to Jacob Zuma’s long-awaited resignation as president of SA has largely been jubilation tempered with caution.

Union federation Cosatu said the ANC now had a chance to give "its government a facelift", while fellow ANC alliance partner the SACP emphasised that the poor and the working class had borne the brunt of Zuma’s disastrous presidency.

Civil society groups including Save SA, the Ahmed Kathrada Foundation and Amnesty International celebrated the resignation but noted the work that still lies ahead for a new government, as well as activists and ordinary South Africans.

Cosatu spokesperson Sizwe Pamla said the incoming president was tasked with restoring confidence and dealing with the "mediocrity and bureaucratic arrogance that has paralysed government".

"Some ministers and government leaders need to be removed and replaced in order for our economy to grow and the people-centred development to thrive‚" Pamla was quoted as saying by Jacaranda FM.

"We do laud him for finally doing the right thing and freeing the country from what was a momentous week of political turmoil."

The Ahmed Kathrada Foundation‚ a leading voice in the opposition to Zuma‚ has welcomed his resignation.

Two years ago‚ the ANC stalwart pleaded in a letter to Zuma for him to resign.

"This evening’s announcement of Zuma’s resignation is one that will be met with a sigh of relief from all South Africans‚" the foundation’s executive director‚ Neeshan Balton, said.

"For the first time in almost a decade‚ South Africans can rejoice that the sun has set on the Zuma era. Despite it having taken a long time for the voices of ordinary people to be heard‚ we can finally celebrate that the president‚ who had become a symbol of the erosion of state integrity‚ has left office.

"On this occasion‚ I wish that Ahmed Kathrada could have been with us to know that his letter … eventually struck a chord. I think that he would have been saddened that it had taken so long for Zuma to ‘submit to the will of the people’‚ but also proud of the work done by individuals across all sectors of society‚ putting pressure on the ANC to take the decision to recall him‚ leading to his resignation."

Balton said Zuma’s resignation was due to the cumulative efforts of civil society formations‚ business‚ labour‚ the religious sector‚ opposition parties‚ ANC members‚ journalists‚ whistle-blowers‚ honest public servants‚ the judiciary and ordinary people.

He cautioned though‚ that while Zuma’s recall was indeed a victory for the people‚ the fight against state capture continued.

"We’ve removed someone who had presided over a systemic process of state capture that has crept into all tiers of government.

"Tomorrow‚ there will still be public officials stealing from state coffers; there will still be individuals who wield undue influence over politicians; there will still be groups willing to defend the state capture project; and there will still be an economy and society wrecked by poor governance.

"It is going to take years of hard work from all sectors of society to reverse state capture and build a state based on integrity‚ accountability‚ and transparency.

"The ANC leadership now has a duty to ensure that corruption is tackled and that any attempt to exonerate those behind its facilitation is quashed.

"We also want the truth — South Africans deserve to know the full extent of the damage done to the country under the Zuma administration — and we hope that the various commissions and inquiries under way into state capture and state-owned entities can reveal such.

"We furthermore hope that law enforcement agencies are committed to investigating and prosecuting those who have facilitated state capture. There must be serious consequences for the corrupt‚ to serve as a deterrent to others. There must be justice‚" he said.

Rights group Amnesty International has called on the new administration to show greater respect for justice.

"During Jacob Zuma’s presidency SA was blighted by serious human rights violations. His successor must do everything within his or her power to ensure that the state redresses this as a priority‚" said Shenilla Mohamed‚ executive director of Amnesty SA.

"Intimidation of independent journalists exposing corruption and ‘state capture’ has also risen under Jacob Zuma’s presidency. Journalists who stood up for editorial integrity at the SABC were also harassed and intimidated.

"With a new president‚ the ANC-led government now has a golden opportunity to ensure that human rights violations‚ including those from the Zuma era‚ are tackled decisively and transparently."

DA leader Mmusi Maimane said the party rejoiced with SA, but warned that there should be no amnesty for Zuma.

The SACP said the working class and the poor were the main victims of the "state capture agenda in which President Zuma has been central".

"In welcoming this long overdue resignation there are many lessons to be learnt. In the first place‚ this was not a willing stepping-down. Only a protracted struggle from within the ANC and its alliance has finally dislodged this president gone wrong," the SACP said.

"The SACP is proud of the role that we have played in this respect from within the alliance and indeed from within the ANC caucus."

Save SA‚ founded by ANC activist and businessman Sipho Pityana‚ saluted civil society and other South Africans for uniting against Zuma.

"We are absolutely delighted to see the back of the worst president this country has ever seen. We look forward to seeing him again in court‚ and soon‚ to face justice for his multitude of crimes against the people of South Africa‚" Save SA said.

"Zuma’s resignation brings to an end the most calamitous era in our post-apartheid history‚ and will be celebrated by anyone who values our Constitution‚ our flag and our sovereignty.

"All these together with the values of our young democracy were compromised by Zuma and his crony compradors‚ who pillaged the South African state for close on a decade.

"Like Zuma‚ these collaborators must also be removed from public office and face justice."

The Organisation Undoing Tax Abuse (Outa) congratulated ANC leader Cyril Ramaphosa for his handling of the Zuma matter.

"We note Jacob Zuma’s opinion and claims of having served the country as best he was able‚ however we disagree with his views‚ as he continues to believe that he has done nothing wrong‚" Outa CEO Wayne Duvenage said.

"We need not deliberate further on Jacob Zuma’s failure as a leader of this country for the past nine years.

"What is important now is that we get behind a new leadership that has expressed its intention to root out corruption and introduce policies and a climate that aims to attract investment and create jobs."

The ANC, meanwhile, has promised to explain to Zuma exactly what he did wrong.

ANC deputy secretary-general Jessie Duarte, addressing the media shortly after Zuma’s announcement, said members of the ANC national executive committee (NEC) had provided reasons for recalling Zuma but she would not state what those reasons were.

"He’s asked for reasons‚ which we feel we should give to him."

Anglican Archbishop Thabo Makgoba says the indiscretions Zuma became embroiled in showed an undeniable breakdown of the contract between him and the people he was obliged to serve.

Makgoba said the country had descended into a “state of painful distress” and the resignation was “an acknowledgment that public power is to be exercised on behalf of and in service to the people of SA‚ rather than for the self-service of the incumbent”.

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