Jacob Zuma Steps Down as South Africa’s President

Influence peddling in his administration was so widespread, according to the nation’s former public protector, that it became a form of state capture in which Mr. Zuma’s business partners or friends influenced government decisions in their personal interest.

Now, his departure as president leaves South Africa with a disillusioned electorate, a weakened economy and a tarnished image in the rest of Africa.

Only hours before his resignation he sounded defiant and aggrieved during a live interview with the state broadcaster SABC, after party leaders threatened to hold the no-confidence vote on Thursday. He indicated strongly that he would not resign, saying that the party’s effort to pull him from office was “unfair,” that he was being “victimized,” and that he had done nothing wrong.

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A banner bearing a portrait of Cyril Ramaphosa, the A.N.C. leader, at the party’s anniversary celebration last month.

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Mujahid Safodien/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

But by Wednesday night, whatever narrow paths of escape he may have hoped for earlier had closed.

Mr. Zuma, who throughout his long career had overcome scandals with a combination of guile and boldness, said he did “not fear exiting political office.” He expressed contrition, though only fleetingly, saying that in executing his political responsibilities, he had not been “the epitome of perfection.”

“If truth be told,” he added, “none of us are.”

Mr. Zuma still faces possible corruption charges for an arms deal in the 1990s, before he was president. If he had remained in office, he might also have faced impeachment proceedings stemming from another corruption case, related to the misuse of public funds for upgrades to his homestead.

On Thursday, Mr. Ramaphosa is almost certain to be chosen by Parliament to become the nation’s fifth president since the end of apartheid in 1994;…

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