Feb 14, 2018

Zuma's last stand: South African president's time is running out

Zuma at the U.N. Photo: Spencer Platt/Getty Images

The walls are closing in around South African President Jacob Zuma, who is refusing calls from his own party to resign and is now expected to face, and lose, a vote of no confidence on Thursday if he doesn’t step down before then.

The big picture: Zuma, 75, is a political survivor. He has been dogged by corruption allegations since before he became president in 2009, and multiple no confidence votes have failed during his tenure. The difference this time is that his own party has fully abandoned him.

The latest: Zuma gave a lengthy, defiant TV address earlier today, claiming he is a victim of an “unfair” process and there should be no “hurry” to force him out immediately. He says he’s willing to step down in June after a transition process, a suggestion his party finds unacceptable.

  • Zuma will reportedly make another statement about his future this evening.

The most recent allegations: Zuma is accused of steering government contracts to two wealthy Indian-born brothers, the Guptas, and enriching himself in the process. A villa belonging to one of the brothers was raided Wednesday by anti-corruption police.

What’s next: Cyril Ramaphosa, the deputy president and head of the ruling ANC party, is expected to be elected president by parliament and sworn in on Friday.

Go deeper: Meet Cyril Ramaphosa, South Africa’s president-in-waiting

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Coronavirus cases rise, as more Americans on cruise confirmed ill

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins, the CDC, and China's NHC; Note: China refers to mainland China and the Diamond Princess is the cruise ship offshore Yokohama, Japan. Map: Danielle Alberti/Axios

A U.S. public health official confirms more than 40 Americans on the Diamond Princess cruise ship off Japan have coronavirus, while the remaining U.S. citizens without symptoms are being evacuated.

The big picture: COVID-19 has now killed at least 1,770 people and infected almost 70,000 others. Most cases and all but five of the deaths have occurred in mainland China. Taiwan confirmed its first death on Sunday, per multiple reports, in a 61-year-old man with underlying health conditions. Health officials were investigating how he became ill.

Go deeperArrowUpdated 2 hours ago - Health

Scoop: Inside the Trump campaign's big hedge on Facebook

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

The Trump campaign has invested most of its advertising budget to date on Facebook, testing thousands of versions of ads per day to maximize its spending.

But behind the scenes, a source familiar with the campaign tells Axios, the thinking has shifted: "As everyone can see, we still have strong spending on Facebook, but the percentage of our total media budget [on Facebook] is shrinking."

Trump's revenge tour has the House in its sights

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios. Photo: Saul Loeb/Getty Contributor

In the lead-up to the 2018 midterm elections — buoyed by Republican control of both chambers — President Trump viewed campaigning for the House as a lower-tier priority and instead poured his energy into rallying for the Senate.

But after the GOP reckoning in 2018, and experiencing firsthand how damaging a Democratic-led House has been to him, Trump is now personally invested in helping Republicans regain the majority in November, several people familiar with his thinking tell Axios.