Chikane not sorry for 'coup' comment
Skhumbuzo Miya, The Witness
Pietermaritzburg - Former director-general in the presidency, Frank Chikane, will not say sorry to the ANC, “because there is nothing to apologise about”.
Chikane was speaking to The Witness after a weekend call by KZN Premier Zweli Mkhize for him to apologise for insinuating that the removal of Thabo Mbeki as the country’s president in 2008 was tantamount to a coup d’ état.
Chikane is the author of Eight Days in September: The Removal of Thabo Mbeki, a book that has caused consternation within some quarters in the ANC.
Asked for his reaction to Mkhize’s call, Chikane said there was no need to apologise because nowhere in the book did he say Mbeki’s removal was a coup.
Pressure to resign
In his book, Chikane writes about how Mbeki was put under pressure to resign on a particular day, saying the ANC set an “unreasonable deadline”.
“The party may have the right to recall its member from government, but cannot determine when the president should submit a letter of resignation.
“I felt that ba leka president joale [they were testing the president’s patience to the limit] and that ba batla ho ribitella bohloko bo a leng ho bona [they were poking their fingers into a gaping wound].
“Once they started dictating when the letter should be delivered, we began to slide into sinking sand, as this would change the status of the recall of the president to that of a coup d’état … this bordered on forcing the president to resign, as if at gunpoint.”
Chikane told The Witness that prior to writing the book in November 2010, he met ANC president Jacob Zuma, deputy president Kgalema Motlanthe and secretary general Gwede Mantashe at Luthuli House, the ANC's headquarters.
They had no problem with his intention to write the book. He also sent them copies of the book and they have had no objection to its content thus far.
“I was writing the story about president Mbeki’s removal as the person who had to manage that process after the ANC had made that decision. I wrote what I observed and if anyone has a different view, he/she must write that. If the ANC had the problem with what I wrote, they should come to me. I am a member of the organisation.”
Official Secrets Act
Chikane said he ensured that the Official Secrets Act was not breached and that there was a chapter in the book that explained that. “I was very careful on how I wrote as I knew this was a sensitive issue,” he said.
Addressing the ANC’s eThekwini conference in Durban on Saturday, Mkhize said some of the book’s content was “inaccurate and one-sided”.
“I have been very disappointed by the book as it creates a one-sided view of what actually transpired. So many other things are missed out. That creates an impression someone was sitting there and decided to connive to do something that is unconstitutional.
“I think characterising the recall of President Mbeki as a coup d’ état is outrageous and uncalled for, and Chikane owes the ANC an apology,” Mkhize said.
Mkhize said the book portrayed the ANC as a monster, which it was not. He emphasised that the decision to remove Mbeki was taken by the highest decision making body of the ANC, the national executive committee (NEC) “and it was difficult and painful”.