South African President Jacob Zuma, a polarizing figure who earned the nickname the “Teflon president” for his ability to survive scandal after scandal, announced on Wednesday that he was resigning after eight years in office.
He made the announcement the day after his own party, the ruling African National Congress party, called for him to step down.
“No life should be lost in my name and also the ANC should never be divided in my name,” Zuma said during a televised address on Wednesday. “I have therefore come to the decision to resign as president of the republic with immediate effect.”
Zuma’s concession to the demands of the ANC followed a push that began in December, when the ANC elected Cyril Ramaphosa, a former anti-apartheid activist, to lead the party.
Zuma was once a popular and respected anti-apartheid activist in South Africa, and was imprisoned alongside Nelson Mandela on Robben Island in 1963. But Zuma’s political career was plagued by scandals, and his reputation for corruption grew to become a political liability for his party.
The Nelson Mandela Foundation called for Zuma to step down in February, saying that the country had seen ”systematic looting” under his rule.
Ramaphosa, the ANC’s new leader, is now poised to become South Africa’s next president after an election in Parliament.