Tuesday, 23 September 2008

Why Mbeki was fired

22/09/2008 11:20  - (SA) 

Moffet Mofokeng, Caiphus Kgosana and Sabelo Ndlangisa

Pretoria - Deputy-president Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka is set to lead an exodus of cabinet ministers who are unhappy with the ANC national executive committee (NEC) decision to axe President Thabo Mbeki.

Despite this, ANC president Jacob Zuma is expected to reassure ANC deployees in government that the party wants them to remain in their positions.

This comes after the decision of the all-powerful ANC NEC to sack Mbeki following Judge Chris Nicholson's ruling that suggested that Mbeki, or some in his executive, might have interfered with the National Prosecuting Authority's decision to charge Zuma.

Although it is generally accepted that Nicholson's ruling has impugned the integrity of cabinet, it is the decision of cabinet and the NPA to appeal the judge's ruling that forced the ANC to fire Mbeki.

Zuma's case

ANC secretary-general Gwede Mantashe said the Nicholson judgment had provided the ANC with the opportunity to put an end to Zuma's legal woes.

"The biggest worry for us is the question of the reversal of the possible closure of that chapter," Mantashe said.

"That case, in our view, is not in the public or national interest. If the case is pursued, it will continue to be a point of division in the ANC. That's the main issue," he said.

City Press can reveal that Mlambo-Ngcuka has told her colleagues in cabinet and some top officials in the presidency that she will resign the moment Mbeki hands over his resignation letter.

"Mlambo-Ngcuka has always been the embodiment of this conspiracy against Zuma. After all, she is Bulelani's (the former NPA boss) wife. She has been under siege from the day she took over as deputy president. Half the ministers are going to follow her," a senior official in the presidency said.

Some of the ministers who are expected to quit when Mbeki resigns are his right-hand man, Essop Pahad, Public Works Minister Thoko Didiza, her colleague at public enterprises, Alec Erwin, Health Minister Manto Tshabalala-Msimang and Communications Minister Ivy Matsepe-Casaburri.


Finance Minister Trevor Manuel has already indicated that he will stay on despite earlier rumours that he would follow Mbeki.

Mlambo-Ngcuka, who was appointed Mbeki's deputy after Zuma's axing in 2005, has in the past wanted to resign because of the hostility she endured from Zuma's supporters but Mbeki urged her to stay on.

At the heated NEC meeting in Kempton Park this weekend, a number of ministers - among them Education Minister Naledi Pandor and Foreign Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma - and Mbeki's policy guru, Joel Netshitenzhe, argued for Mbeki to be allowed to serve out his term in vain.

"Trevor (Manuel) never said a word. Nkosazana (Dlamini-Zuma) was very incoherent. Zola Skweyiya said that it was very painful for him. He said: 'I have known this man for too long. It is painful'," another NEC member reported.

On the other hand, Transport Minister Jeff Radebe, Housing Minister Lindiwe Sisulu, businessman Tokyo Sexwale, SACP boss Blade Nzimande and ANC Youth League president Julius Malema successfully argued for Mbeki's removal from office.

Sympathy resignation

Malema, according to some NEC members, went as far as to threaten to mobilise the youth if the ANC NEC failed to fire Mbeki.

Another source said Sexwale told the meeting: "We can't live another day with this man."

Zuma, who met Mbeki on Friday, told the meeting that Mbeki should be allowed fly to the United Nations to represent the country and only resign on his return.

Pahad has indicated that he will resign in sympathy with Mbeki.

He said though he had not discussed it with Mbeki, he had personally decided to go if the president was asked to leave office.

"I was appointed by him and therefore if he resigns I shall also resign," he said.

"I don't think it has been correct. I think much later they will recognise his great legacy, there's no doubt about that. He has been a great leader of the ANC and a great leader of this country. Even if some people don't recognise it now, they will certainly recognise it in time to come."


Monday, 15 September 2008

The end of Mbeki?

14/09/2008 09:35  - (SA)

Political team, Rapport

Johannesburg - It would appear the ANC was ready to order President Thabo Mbeki's political death sentence.

ANC MPs in Parliament were awaiting orders from ANC headquarters in Johannesburg to put in motion steps to remove Mbeki from office. Nathi Mthethwa, chief whip of the ANC in Parliament, said it was no longer a matter of "if" the ANC would act against Mbeki, but "when".

This came after Judge Chris Nicholson found in the Pietermaritzburg High Court that ANC president Jacob Zuma's corruption case was invalid as Mbeki and others had interfered in Zuma's prosecution.

The verdict basically underscored claims that Zuma's prosecution was a plot to prevent him from becoming president after next year's elections.

Mthethwa said, "A leader of the ANC can't be implicated in a plot to cause the downfall of a comrade and then pretend that nothing happened."

Political experts said Mbeki still had a trump card. As head of state, he had the power to disband parliament and call for an early election - a move that wouldn't save his political life, but could take the ANC by surprise as the party was not yet ready for an election.

A source close to Mbeki told City Press on Saturday that the president was "tired of fighting and would agree with whatever the ANC wanted him to do".

It has been suggested that the same process could be used as in the case of Ebrahim Rasool, former Western Cape premier, who was asked to resign "in the interests of the ANC".

Any legal process to force Mbeki from office will need the support of two thirds of parliament.

Zuma said on Saturday that he felt rejuvenated by Friday's court verdict.



ANC tight-lipped on Mbeki

15/09/2008 09:44  - (SA)

Johannesburg - The African National Congress (ANC) remained tight-lipped on Monday on reports that President Thabo Mbeki's future will be discussed at a meeting of its national working committee (NWC) on Monday.

"We will inform you of decisions and of outcomes - not of speculations. We are not prepared to confirm anything," said ANC spokesperson Jessie Duarte.

"At this point, we are not going to give you any information on what we are discussing."

The NWC meeting takes place ahead of a meeting of the national executive committee on Friday.

Several Sunday newspapers have quoted "senior ANC members" saying they would call for Mbeki to be dismissed.

This comes after a high court judgment on Friday found it was possible Mbeki was behind a political conspiracy against ANC president Jacob Zuma.

Zuma indicated at the weekend that he did not believe Mbeki should be ousted, using a Zulu expression that compared Mbeki to a "dead snake"



'Mbeki breached the Constitution'

12/09/2008 15:25  - (SA) 

Cape Town - Pietermaritzburg High Court Judge Chris Nicholson's ruling that the decision to prosecute ANC president Jacob Zuma on corruption and other charges was unlawful, is a stinging slap in the face of President Thabo Mbeki and his Cabinet, according to constitutional law expert, Professor Pierre de Vos.

Writing in his blog, constitutionallyspeaking.co.za on Friday, De Vos also pointed out that a court had for the first time confirmed what many people had suspected - "that Mbeki and his Cabinet have interfered in the decision to prosecute Zuma to gain political advantage".

"The constitutionally guaranteed independence of the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) has been fatally breached in the process," he added.


Nicholson confirmed in his judgment that the NPA should act without fear favour or prejudice when deciding on whether to prosecute and individual, and it failed to do so in the case of Zuma.

"He seemed to suggest that the NPA Act, which allows for the National Director to be fired by the President, may well be unconstitutional and that the president has abused his power and breached the Constitution by acquiescing in the undermining of the independence of the NPA.

"President Mbeki has in effect been found to have breached the Constitution," De Vos, a professor at the University of the Western Cape, said.

He added that in an ordinary democracy, the president would find it difficult to survive such a rebuke from a court, and Mbeki's position "has really now become untenable, and if he had any honour he would resign".

The judgment is also likely to rekindle calls by members of the ANC and its alliance partners for Mbeki to fired.

'Today's judgment will help South Africa'

Meanwhile, Zuma told supporters outside the court that the judgment "is a victory for the judiciary, it is a victory for our democracy, it is a victory for our justice system", Sapa reported.

"My view is, today's judgment will help South Africa," Zuma said.

He also said Nicholson confirmed his belief that there was a political conspiracy against him. "The judge said... this is a political wrangle."

Zuma not in the clear

De Vos pointed out that Zuma is not in the clear, as the judgment made no comment on the advisability of the NPA's decision to re-charge Zuma.

"Even if Zuma is not re-charged he will obviously still have an ethical (if not a legal) cloud hanging over his head and at the very least he will have to try and show to the nation why he would not have been found guilty had he been charged. Otherwise most of us will continue to wonder whether he might not have been corrupt after all and might not have given an opening to President Mbeki to abuse the system to get rid of him."

Judge Nicholson's decision strengthens both Zuma's political and legal hand, and he is now favourite to become the country's next president, De Vos wrote.

"Politically, his claim of a political conspiracy has in effect been vindicated by a court... Legally the judgment seem to strengthen the argument that he would not be able to get a fair trial because of the political interference in the case (although this would still be a difficult argument to sell to a court)."

Reaction from opposition parties

However, opposition parties pointed out that the judgment was not about whether Zuma was guilty or innocent.

"We are still no closer to knowing whether Zuma is innocent or guilty of the corruption charges brought against him," said Democratic Alliance leader Helen Zille.

"Zuma remains a suspect with a cloud hanging over his head," said United Democratic Movement leader Bantu Holomisa.

Independent Democrats leader Patricia de Lille said Zuma should still "face the music and clear his name".

She added that the judgment "clearly indicates blatant political interference by President Mbeki and Cabinet members in the NPA process and the timing of charging Zuma".

"The ID views this as a shocking indictment on Mbeki and his Cabinet and lends further weight to the IDs call for a vote of no confidence in the President and the Cabinet, who must take collective responsibility for this entire debacle," De Lille said. - News24/Sapa