Zuma 'misled' Mbeki
Sabelo Ndlangisa, City Press
Johannesburg - President Jacob Zuma assured his predecessor, Thabo Mbeki, that he would see out the remainder of his term in office, but hours later, Mbeki was recalled by the ANC.
This is one of the most dramatic revelations penned in a new book by former presidency director-general Frank Chikane titled Eight Days in September: The Removal of Thabo Mbeki.
Zuma’s meeting with Mbeki came in the wake of public threats by ANC Youth League leader Julius Malema in September 2008 that Mbeki would be sacked by the party’s national executive committee (NEC) when it met that weekend.
Malema’s calls were fuelled by a finding of the Pietermaritzburg High Court that Zuma’s corruption prosecution was politically motivated. The ruling was later overturned.
“There is a debate about whether or not Zuma meant what he said both in public and in private about the removal of Mbeki,” Chikane writes.
The book has been published at a time when Mbeki’s public profile has risen by him assuming an active public role and as the ANC prepares for an elective conference in nine months.
Mbeki, who has hardly participated in domestic politics since his sacking in 2008, attended the ANC’s 100th birthday bash in Mangaung in January and has been increasingly outspoken on continental issues.
There has been speculation about whether or not he would use his clout to influence leadership succession in December.
In his book, Chikane reveals:
- How the private relationship between Mbeki and Zuma turned sour following the National Prosecuting Authority’s decision to prosecute Zuma’s financial adviser, Schabir Shaik;
- That he approached both Mbeki and Zuma to express his concern about how Shaik’s prosecution would affect the functioning of the presidency;
- How he and then ANC secretary-general Kgalema Motlanthe tried to rope in former president Nelson Mandela to reconcile Zuma and Mbeki, but how the plan was foiled by the 2006 hoax email saga that implicated Chikane - and which Motlanthe believed;
- Why Mbeki avoided attending ANC meetings following his defeat by Zuma in Polokwane;
- That Zuma had voluntarily stepped down as ANC deputy president in 2005 at an ANC NEC meeting following Shaik’s conviction on fraud and corruption charges;
- Why Mbeki decided to comply with the ANC’s decision to recall him without putting up any resistance;
- Mbeki’s unpublished farewell letter to his Cabinet and the emotional parting with his Cabinet colleagues;
- How Motlanthe intervened and provided airforce assistance to a stranded Mbeki when the axed former president needed to move out of his official residence;
- How the relationship between Parliament and the presidency soured following Mbeki’s recall; and
- How Motlanthe was hamstrung in his final days as president, and could not act without consulting Zuma.
ANC secretary-general Gwede Mantashe refused to comment on Chikane’s claims, saying there would be “chaos” if the ruling party responded to every member who wrote about it.
Chikane is writing a second book on Mbeki’s policies.