31/05/2017 19:29 SAST | Updated 31/05/2017 20:26 SAST

Nelson Mandela Foundation Calls On Jacob Zuma To Step Down

"President Zuma [is] largely regarded as the author of the current malaise."

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A mural to Nelson Mandela in west Belfast as First Minister Peter Robinson paid tribute to the former South African leader's humility and charisma following his death at the age of 95.

The Nelson Mandela Foundation has called on President Jacob Zuma to quit his office to "save and protect the republic and restore its dignity".

The board's chairperson, Professor Njabulo Ndebele, called on citizens to stand up and "fight" for the country, reported Jacaranda FM:

"We must all take responsibility for reimagining the future. If the future is to belong to South Africans who respect the Constitution and are committed to making it a lived reality for all who live in the country, then all of us need to tool our work in support of our collective intention."

In a hard-hitting statement, the foundation said it was clear that "our country's constitutional democracy is under threat and its political process in crisis".

This was evidenced in structural corruption, whose "tentacles have spread throughout the economy and the public service. Even in the domain of interpersonal relations, it has replaced trustful mutuality with transactional intent, and public interest with self-interest".

The foundation cited a recent academic paper which demonstrated the emergence of a "shadow state".

"This has resulted in a more or less systematic looting of public coffers. Secrecy and malicious intent are denied even as they are exposed and proven."

Increasing levels of violence towards women and children, unemployment, a failure of the education system and corruption all pointed towards a failure of the state which was robbing citizens of a better future, the statement continued.

"This entire situation has resulted from failures of leadership at multiple levels of government and across the range of social sectors... It is no wonder that today we have leaders who care neither for the authority of the Constitution nor for its vision. Instead they use and abuse the constitutional state to build parallel bases of power and extract wealth shamelessly for themselves and their networks."

Njabulo said there had been a failure of government at all levels, but admitted it was not easy to come to the conclusion to ask President Zuma to step down.

The patronage network is deep and needs to be rooted out, continued Ndebele:

"What is required to save and protect the republic and restore its dignity is the uprooting of the self-serving networks that have been created and which could continue to wreak havoc in our country, if they are not dismantled."

Foundation CEO, Sello Hatang, said it was not enough to for Zuma to go -- everything and everyone that had allowed him to continue his corrupt actions would also need to go, reported Times Live.

"Concentration on the leader is not enough. Uproot everything of the leader that makes it possible for him to do what he is doing‚" said Hatang.

The board of trustees of the Nelson Mandela Foundation was addressing the public and media on the state of the country, particularly in relation to violence, corruption and the continued "assault" on the Constitution.

The Nelson Mandela Foundation is a non-profit organisation founded by Nelson Mandela in 1999 to promote his vision of "freedom and equality for all".