South Africa's ruling African National Congress says it will support a no-confidence motion against embattled President Jacob Zuma if he does not resign, a day after the party voted to recall him over allegations of corruption.
The ANC's treasurer-general, Paul Mashatile, made the announcement on Wednesday, Reuters reports. The party's chief whip, Jackson Mthembu, said the ANC hoped to elect party leader and Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa as the country's new president following the confidence motion on Thursday or Friday.
The dramatic turn follows a drawn-out effort by the ANC to get Zuma to step down ahead of end of his term next year – a move seen as placing the ruling party on a firmer footing for the 2019 elections.
But Zuma has refused to go despite months of negotiations. As recently as Tuesday, Mashatile had said party leaders had not discussed a confidence motion against Zuma, preferring instead to give him "time and space" to respond to the recall.
Zuma has survived several no-confidence motions in the past, but with the ruling party firmly backing such a motion this time around, its passage is all but assured.
Meanwhile, heavily armed South African police on Wednesday raided the Johannesburg residence of the controversial Gupta family, said to have corrupt links to the 75-year-old Zuma.
Reuters reports: "The raid marks a dramatic escalation in the pressure on Zuma and the political faction around him accused of milking state resources for their own ends. ... The early morning raid, which the police's elite Hawks unit said resulted in three arrests."
Peter Granitz, reporting for NPR from Pretoria, says "The Gupta brothers have been accused by South African authorities of siphoning money from the contracts they've won with the government. The contracts are worth billions of dollars and their empire spans South Africa, from mining to technology services."
"One of Zuma's sons works for the Guptas, as do the children of other high ranking officials. A former cabinet official blew the whistle and said the Guptas offered him a $50 million dollar bribe," Granitz reports.
According to the BBC:
"The embattled Gupta family own a range of business interests in South Africa, including computing, mining, air travel, energy, technology and media.
The three brothers, Atul, Rajesh and Ajay, moved to the country in 1993 from India, just as white-minority rule was ending.
They are known friends of President Zuma - and his son, daughter and one of the president's wives worked for the family's firms."