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.