RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:
South Africans will soon learn the political fate of their president, Jacob Zuma. His entire nine years in office have been marred by corruption. And his party is tired of how his image is reflecting badly on them. Joining us now - Peter Granitz - he is reporting the story for us from the capital of South Africa, Pretoria. Hey, Peter.
PETER GRANITZ, BYLINE: Hey, Rachel. How you doing?
MARTIN: Doing well. Get us up to speed. Why do people want Jacob Zuma out?
GRANITZ: In a word, corruption. There's an impending investigation into wholesale looting at government-owned companies. He and even some of his kids could be caught up in that. And he'll soon learn whether he'll have to face a criminal trial for his role in a decades-old arms deal. That deal proceeds his time in office.
Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa is Zuma's likely successor. It's possible there's a caretaker president for a period of time. But Ramaphosa is the leader of the African National Congress. Yesterday, he marked the 28-year anniversary of the release of Nelson Mandela from prison. And he took the chance to try and guide the party back to the sterling image it enjoyed under Mandela.
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CYRIL RAMAPHOSA: We will continue with this legacy of fighting corruption and making sure that those who are corrupt and steal from the poor are brought to justice. That is what Nelson Mandela would've wanted.
GRANITZ: The kicker there, Rachel - brought to justice. Many South Africans really want to see Jacob Zuma prosecuted. And if he's no longer president, it's not guaranteed he'll have the government foot his legal bills anymore.
MARTIN: Interesting. So what does his party do then? I mean, the ANC's expected to meet today, right? What's expected to come out of that?
GRANITZ: That's right. They're going to meet here in Pretoria. Ramaphosa says they'll finalize the transition. We don't know exactly what that means. It could mean that the party forces Zuma to resign. He could ignore that. Others - in South Africa, politicians serve at the will of their party. So the party can tell him to go, or they can keep him in power. The party could unceremoniously recall him like it did to Zuma's successor, Thabo Mbeki. The ANC could instruct its members in Parliament to remove him through impeachment or a no-confidence vote. We still don't know an indication of when this will go on and how long it will take.
MARTIN: What does this mean for the people of South Africa?
GRANITZ: Well, it means that the party's listening to its citizens. And it shows the country has strong democratic institutions, such as an independent judiciary and a press that's held Zuma to account. Cynics might say that the ANC is only forcing Zuma out because it needs him gone to do better in elections, which is true. But in the larger context, South Africa and the ANC, because of its role in the liberation movement, is still seen as a leader in Africa. And it's important to regain that image as a moral organization.
MARTIN: And they clearly think they can do that better with Jacob Zuma out. Reporter Peter Granitz with us from Pretoria, South Africa. Peter, thanks so much.
GRANITZ: You bet.
(SOUNDBITE OF HIDDEN ORCHESTRA'S "ALYTH") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.