Will Mbeki stay or go? ANC divided ahead of meeting

2008-09-18 00:00

Cape Town — At this stage, top leaders in the ANC still agree that President Thabo Mbeki should complete his term, but the pressure to get rid of him increased yesterday.

The party’s national executive committee (NEC) is meeting in Kempton Park today. The consequences of Judge Chris Nicholson’s ruling regarding political interference in the Jacob Zuma case will be a point on the agenda.

Mbeki was described as a “chess master who will fight to the end” and who still has some options left. It would seem that his opponents may have overplayed their hand and unleashed a backlash.

ANCYL leader Julius Malema said: “Fine, we are leaving this dead snake, but we must bury it, it is dead now,” Sapa earlier said. He added that the ANCYL has already convinced the majority of NEC members that Mbeki should go.

Malema threatened that any ANC leaders opposing Mbeki’s dismissal will be suspended.

Indications are still that the ANC’s national working committee will recommend to the NEC that Mbeki should step down, although there are still conflicting opinions.

A cabinet member serving on the NEC said the majority agree that Mbeki should serve his full term.

“We should consider the impact of an early termination not only on ourselves, but on the whole country, with regard to service delivery, the world economy and international relations.”

He also said there is no truth in the rumour that cabinet is preparing for an early resignation.

Yesterday a special cabinet meeting was held after ministers were told of the meeting only the previous evening.

At the meeting, cabinet received a submission from Mbeki’s legal advisers. “Mbeki spoke right at the end, and then only to summarise what the advisors had said.”

Apparently, Zuma called Mbeki in on Wednesday evening, which is being denied at this stage.

Early yesterday, cabinet decided to probe the possibility of an appeal against the Nicholson ruling.

The ANC can not force Mbeki to resign. When he was elected, he ceased to be a member of Parliament. He can be dismissed only through a motion of no confidence by Parliament.

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