By Charles Molele
20 September 2010
The ANC’s “recalling” of President Thabo Mbeki from office two years ago was due mainly to relations between the government and the party “breaking down irretrievably”, ANC leader Jacob Zuma said yesterday.
Zuma told delegates to the ANC national general council meeting in Durban that Mbeki’s axing was “one of the most difficult political decisions” the party had had to take.
Yesterday was the first time that Zuma spoke direct to ANC branches from all over the country about Mbeki’s firing.
“Towards the end of 2008, the organisation had to confront the reality that relations with its foremost deployee in the government, the president of the republic, had broken down irretrievably,” he said.
When Mbeki was fired, the ANC gave as a reason for its decision Pietermaritzburg High Court Judge Chris Nicholson’s implying that Mbeki abused state power in a bid to stop Zuma succeeding him. Zuma was then facing fraud and corruption charges.
Mbeki has attended no formal ANC gathering since his axing as president. He was invited to attend the national general council meetings but flew to Sudan on an African Union mission.
Zuma praised Mbeki yesterday for agreeing to quit without a fight.
“We once again acknowledge the response of Comrade Mbeki, who accepted the decision of the organisation with dignity and agreed to step down.”
The ANC president also praised his deputy, Kgalema Motlanthe, who took over after Mbeki’s sacking, “for leading the country well through” the transitional period.
Zuma took a dig at the ministers who quit when Mbeki was fired, saying that their action showed that “these cadres were more loyal to an individual than to the organisation”.
He mocked the media and commentators for predicting the demise of the ANC after angry members left it to form COPE amid “pomp and drama”.
“To borrow from Shakespeare, ‘It was a tale told by an idiot; full of sound and fury, signifying nothing’,” he said.