[DEBATE] : (Fwd) Mbeki bye-bye?
pbond at mail.ngo.za
Sun Sep 14 08:23:10 BST 2008
13/09/2008 19:52 - (SA)
Luthuli House acts swiftly to oust Mbeki
Caiphus Kgosana, Jackie Mapiloko, Moffet Mofokeng and Makhudu Sefara
MEMBERS of the ANC in Parliament say they are waiting for instructions
from Luthuli House, the ANC headquarters, on how and when to proceed in
removing President Thabo Mbeki.
Nathi Mthethwa, the ANC chief whip in Parliament, said yesterday that it
was no longer a question of “if” but “when” the ANC would move against
Mbeki. He said things “could not remain the same” after the judgment
delivered by Judge Chris Nicholson at the Pietermaritzburg High Court on
Nicholson effectively accused Mbeki, Justice Minister Brigitte Mabandla,
her predecessor Penuell Maduna, and state officials of “meddling” in the
affairs of the administration of justice. He noted that even if Zuma
could not prove there was a political conspiracy against him, his claims
were nonetheless not baseless.
Mthethwa said when Parliament reconvenes in two weeks time, ANC MPs
would hold a caucus on how to deal with Mbeki. The Constitution
stipulates that the president can be removed by a two-thirds majority in
“As a leader of the ANC, you cannot be implicated of plotting the
downfall of your comrade and people then pretend as if nothing has
happened,” said Mthethwa.
Nicholson’s comments that are likely to sink Mbeki include: “Is it
possible that Mr Maduna was on a frolic of his own or acting on
instructions? It seems very improbable that in so important a matter as
one involving the deputy president – his political superior – a mere
minister would get involved without the president knowing and agreeing.”
ANC treasurer Mathews Phosa said yesterday that the ANC would discuss
“We will take whatever decision we deem fit and act on that decision,”
ANC secretary-general Gwede Mantashe said the judgment would be
discussed at the next national executive committee (NEC) meeting on
September 19, which will pronounce on the course of action to follow.
Cosatu secretary-general Zwelinzima Vavi said the federation would call
an urgent central executive committee meeting, after which a letter
would be written to the ANC recommending what action should follow
Nicholson’s harsh words on Mbeki.
SACP leader Blade Nzimande said he would convene a central committee
A source said: “There’s no guessing what these meetings will recommend.
“Mbeki is history. The question is, will he resist a recall?”
If Mbeki resists, the ANC could be forced to attempt a vote of no
confidence in Parliament. Mthethwa implied all ANC MPs would have to
follow the party line.
Professor Marinus Wiechers, former professor of constitutional law at
Unisa, says Mbeki could disband Parliament and force the ANC to go to
the polls within three months if they bring a vote of no-confidence.
Another source said Mbeki was tired of fighting and would subject
himself to whatever the ANC expected of him.
One NEC member said: “There is now immense pressure to remove Mbeki. The
question is how? Does Zuma go in now and fight the election as a sitting
president or does he wait for the crowning moment of moving in with
victory bells from an election in 2009?
“If he chooses the latter, who takes over? Kgalema Motlanthe? How do
they remove Deputy President Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka? The national
working committee meets on Monday and will start the process.
“It will be dirty and is the saddest challenge for Mbeki to be removed
from office in this way. But people remember how “JZ” was removed and
will feel justified in giving him his own medicine,” the NEC member said.
“The responsibility of the leadership of the ANC is not to keep the
nation on a knife edge but to take decisive decisions that will end this
“We cannot have a sitting president continue to rule while implicated in
these sorts of things. We cannot have Phumzile either, so the solution
has to be an early election.”
Yesterday, the uMkhonto weSizwe Military Veterans Association said it
would write a letter to be delivered to the ANC recommending the recall
A source close to Mbeki said, “There is no doubt what Mbeki will do if
the ANC recalls him, he will oblige. That is not his biggest problem
right now. He is more worried about what he sees as factual inaccuracies
by Nicholson, leading the judge to make pronouncements he feels are untrue.
“So he would be trying to see how the mistakes can be corrected, given
the legal framework of a judge’s decision on a procedural application
which does not allow an appeal.
“It may well be that his office may approach the judge president of
KwaZulu-Natal for a review. But everybody accepts that whatever he does,
it will not affect the political storm from “JZ” and that his days may
indeed be numbered,” the source said.
Party to decide president’s fate after judge’s shattering verdict
Moipone Malefane, Paddy Harper, Mpumelelo Mkhabela and Charles Molele
Published:Sep 13, 2008
Mbeki must fall on his sword or we will push him onto itANC leaders lash
president as enemies move to oust him
The ANC and its alliance partners will decide whether to oust President
Thabo Mbeki in a series of meetings starting this week.
In the wake of a damning High Court judgment that got Mbeki’s bitter foe
Jacob Zuma off the hook on Friday, tomorrow the ANC’s national working
committee (NWC) will be the first to discuss Mbeki’s fate ahead of the
party’s crucial national executive committee (NEC) meeting, which starts
Cosatu and the South African Communist Party also announced that they
would convene meetings this week to discuss Mbeki’s future as president.
An ANC official told the Sunday Times that Mbeki would “be pushed on
(to) his sword if he can’t fall on his sword”.
Following this week’s meetings, officials from all the three alliance
partners will meet on September 24 to formulate a common position to be
presented to Mbeki.
“The most obvious one would be to appoint a delegation that will go and
see him to ask him to step down,” a senior ANC leader said.
In his judgment on Friday, Judge Chris Nicholson backed Zuma’s claims of
a political conspiracy against him.
He said Mbeki and his cabinet had to take responsibility for abusing the
prosecuting authority to try to remove Zuma from the “titanic political
struggle” over the ANC presidency.
Likening Mbeki and his cabinet’s behaviour to that of apartheid-era
governments, he said successive heads of the National Prosecuting
Authority had committed “a very serious criminal offence” punishable by
up to 10 years in jail, by allowing Mbeki and his justice ministers to
He had particularly harsh words for the NPA’s founding director,
Bulelani Ngcuka, on whose watch the investigation into Zuma began.
The judge said it was “very improbable” that former justice minister
Penuell Maduna was “on a frolic of his own” and would have got involved
in illegal attempts to nail Zuma “without the president knowing and
“In terms of the law, more especially emanating from the constitution,
there is responsibility attributable to the president” for Maduna and
Mabandla’s actions, the judge said.
However, he emphasised that his ruling was not a judgment on Zuma’s
guilt or innocence.
The ANC’s secretary-general, Gwede Mantashe, said on Friday that the NEC
would discuss the judge’s comments.
The president of the MK Military Veterans’ Association, Kebby Maphatsoe,
said yesterday the organisation was going to write to the ANC requesting
that Mbeki be recalled.
“The judgment has discredited Mbeki,” he said.
The association’s general secretary, Ayanda Dlodlo, who is also an ANC
NEC member, said: “The judge agrees with us that our president has been
treated unfairly. He never received support from cabinet and the past
ANC leadership. He was a loner amongst sharks.”
ANC Youth League president Julius Malema — who also sits on the party’s
NEC and NWC — said the party had to decide that Mbeki must go soon.
“We have said it before that he had a hand in our president being
charged and the judge has confirmed that. He must go now,” he said.
Another NEC member said: “We would be talking differently if there was
no finding like an abuse of power. But why must Mbeki be entrusted with
power when he is abusing it? He has violated the constitution.”
A member of the NWC said there was already an informal debate about
stripping Mbeki of his ANC membership. He said Mbeki could face
disciplinary action if he did not resign.
“He could make our job easy so we don’t find ourselves having to act
against him. Some of our members are already suggesting that he should
not be a member of the party.
“President Mbeki fired Zuma on the basis of inference. Now Mbeki is
being identified in the judgment as having been part of a conspiracy
against Zuma. There is no inference; it’s a direct reference of his
abuse of power. You cannot have a judgment like that without consequences.”
Should the NEC meeting agree on early elections, it means a general
election will possibly be held by February.
The constitution offers two ways to remove Mbeki from power.
There can be a vote of no confidence, which would need a majority of at
least 201 of the 400 members of the National Assembly, or an early
election could be called.
The ANC holds 293 seats.
If Mbeki lost the vote, speaker Baleka Mbete would become acting
president and would need to convene parliament to elect a new president.
In the case of an early election, a majority of sitting MPs can vote
that the president must dissolve parliament. In that case, Mbeki would
have 90 days to call an election.
However, it appears more likely that the ANC and its alliance partners
will go for the vote of no confidence option.
Independent Democratic leader Patricia de Lille has also urged the ANC
to call for a motion of no-confidence in Mbeki and his cabinet.
The Public Protector, Lawrence Mushwana , said yesterday he felt
vindicated by Judge Nicholson.
The judge criticised Ngcuka for his statement in 2003 in which he said
there was prima facie evidence of corruption against Zuma although he
would not prosecute as the case was “unwinnable”.
In 2005 Mushwana found Ngcuka had violated Zuma’s rights with his statement.
Mushwana was castigated by Ngcuka and Maduna for his findings, which
were tabled in Parliament in 2004. Ngcuka and Maduna publicly attacked
Mushwana, questioned his intellect and accused him of having “no backbone”.
Although they subsequently apologised, Mushwana wanted to take them to
court for contempt of his ruling.
Mbeki intervened, asking Mushwana not to take them to court because he
would act against them.
“Nobody came to our defence. We were hammered. The only time when the
president came out, but not in public, was when I wanted to charge them
because in terms of our act you could charge them for contempt of
court,” Mushwana revealed this week.
“The president said I should not proceed because a court case would take
long. He would act.”
“When we have this high crime rate in the country and you have this type
of a situation where someone can manipulate any state institution to
their personal end, it is quite scary. I think it’s a wake-up call.
“I have nothing about Zuma becoming president or not, but if they wanted
to charge him, they should have charged him in 2003.”
# Additional reporting by Ndivhuho Mafela
Mbeki’s failed vendetta has handed the presidency to Zuma on a plate
Mondli Makhanya Published:Sep 13, 2008
One early morning in 2001, Scorpions investigators descended on several
homes and buildings in South Africa, France and Mauritius.
Among those raided were the homes and offices of Schabir Shaik, at the
time a financial adviser to Jacob Zuma, who was deputy president. They
found reams of documents, including classified cabinet arms-deal minutes.
But priceless to the investigators were documents implicating Shaik in
corrupt relationships with politicians.
Priceless to President Thabo Mbeki were documents implicating Shaik in a
corrupt relationship with Zuma. Thus began the Jacob Zuma investigation.
Shaik was an obsessive hoarder of receipts, bank slips, correspondence
and other documents. This foolish practice, presumably for the purposes
of future insurance, was to be his undoing. It gave the investigators a
good start in what was to be a long, exhaustive, technically complicated
and politically risky investigation.
The find was priceless to Mbeki and his allies, as they were trying hard
to stymie Zuma’s attempt to succeed him.
The effort had begun as early as the run-up to the 1997 ANC conference
in Mafikeng, where Mbeki was to assume the mantle from Nelson Mandela.
Before Mafikeng, many were lobbying for Zuma, who was party chairman.
Even though he was highly regarded for his leadership acumen, Zuma was
also known for being a clumsy humpty-dumpty who grinned and giggled a
lot but got very little done in his economic affairs portfolio. There
was also great concern in ANC circles about Zuma’s dalliances with
slimy, slippery types like Schabir Shaik.
In the months leading up to Mafikeng there was an active campaign to
highlight Zuma’s weaknesses. There was even a secret document —
purporting to be an intelligence report on his corrupt relationships —
that did the rounds. That and other efforts failed, and Zuma was elected.
Following IFP leader Mangosuthu Buthelezi’s rejection of Mbeki’s offer
of the country’s deputy presidency in 1999, Mbeki reluctantly appointed
But he then moved fast — in the guise of restructuring the presidency—
to strip the deputy president’s office of real power. Responsibilities
Mbeki had when he was Mandela’s deputy were usurped, virtually rendering
the deputy president’s office a junior ministry.
By this point the game was becoming apparent to Zuma and his allies — he
was being shafted.
So when the criminal investigation of Zuma began, the word “conspiracy”
was whispered frequently.
Then came that strange day in 2002, when Zuma was compelled to publicly
proclaim his loyalty to Mbeki and state that he had no presidential
It later transpired that it was Zuma’s attempt to stop Mbeki from
implicating him in a coup plot.
Apparently during a midnight stroll around the gardens of his
Mahlambandlop’fu residence Mbeki had hallucinated about a plot by Zuma,
Mathews Phosa, Tokyo Sexwale and Cyril Ramaphosa to oust him.
He immediately got the police to investigate the plot, with a view to
jailing the four. When Zuma got wind of that, he issued the mysterious
statement. The other three leaders were investigated by a top team
co-ordinated by police commissioner Jackie Selebi — a probe that marked
Mbeki’s greatest abuse of state power.
Meanwhile, the investigation of Zuma’s corruption continued apace .
Zuma, it seemed, had been a slavish servant to Schabir Shaik, and had
done the dodgy businessman many favours.
When the story of the Zuma investigation broke in November 2002, Zuma
denied the allegations and said he would defend himself when he got his
day in court.
All he saw was Mbeki’s furry hand controlling the investigators. The
word “conspiracy” was now no longer a whisper in ANC ranks. It was loud.
Then came that “Pontius Pilate” announcement of the decision by Bulelani
Ngcuka, then the director of public prosecutions, and the justice
minister, Penuell Maduna, that they would not charge Zuma — even though
there was prima facie evidence of his criminality.
This public statement cemented the conspiracy theory in many an ANC
head. Members rallied around Zuma the victim.
Not even Schabir Shaik’s trial — complete with gory details of Zuma’s
servant-master relationship with Shaik and other businessmen — could
dent his support. He was the victim.
“Thus far, no further!” was the rallying cry as all the victims of
Mbeki’s pogroms and cruelty assembled in their refugee camps to launch a
counter-assault. Zuma was their rallying point.
By the time Mbeki arrived in Polokwane to try for a third term, his
chances of victory were as good as of those of an asthmatic geriatric
climbing Mount Everest in the dead of winter.
Now he is set to leave office in humiliation. The judge stopped short of
accusing him of criminality. And Zuma, who was supposed to face criminal
charges, is a free man.
Next year Zuma will — with a straight face — take an oath of office and
pledge to uphold the constitution and the law. And he is unlikely ever
to have to answer to the serious charges that any citizen — never mind a
man at the helm of a country— should have to.
And for that lovely gift of a President Jacob Zuma we will have no one
to thank but Thabo Mbeki.
Zuma judge cuts to the heart of SA’s ills
Paddy Harper Published:Sep 13, 2008
When Judge Chris Nicholson on Friday set aside the indictment against
Jacob Zuma, he did far more than simply rule that the decision to charge
the ANC president last December was fatally flawed and politically
The cricket-loving judge made a crucial intervention from the bench,
slamming apartheid-style manipulation of the prosecuting service by
President Thabo Mbeki and calling for the appointment of a commission of
inquiry to deal with the poisonous effect of the arms deal on South
The judge also threw down the gauntlet to Zuma and his backers to
refrain from committing the same abuses of power in a quest for payback .
Judge Nicholson’s 25000-word, 115-page judgment isolates and rejects the
procedural defects in the decisions to prosecute Zuma by successive
National Directors of Public Prosecutions, crisply separating the issues
of Zuma’s guilt or innocence and the abuse of legal process.
But, more importantly, it provides a scathing assessment of where the
ANC government has lost its way in relation to corruption and
maladministration and the use of the justice system to fight political
It also challenges the incoming administration — which after Friday is
set to be headed by Zuma — to resist the urge to turn the tables on
Mbeki and use the same tactics against him.
Turning to the arms deal, Judge Nicholson calls for a commission of
inquiry to deal with the claims of corruption once and for all.
“It would be impossibly naive to suggest that the allegations concerning
corruption relating to the arms deal have ceased or diminished in
intensity. They purport to involve very senior figures in government
from the president downwards.
“Only a commission of inquiry can properly rid our land of this cancer
that is devouring the body politic and the reputation for integrity
built up so assiduously since the fall of apartheid,” he says. A
commission would either prove the allegations or stop political leaders
being “defamed and slandered in this shameless and despicable way”.
He goes on: “The public purse should fund a commission of inquiry so
that they can govern in peace and tranquillity and not under an
ever-present cloud of suspicion and scandal.”
The judge tears away the layers of deceit and denial surrounding Zuma’s
Zuma is the victim of “political meddling” aimed at taking him out of
the political game, a cynical manipulation for which Mbeki and his
cabinet are responsible.
Three successive National Directors of Public Prosecutions — Bulelani
Ngcuka, Vusi Pikoli and Mokotedi Mpshe — have committed “a serious
criminal offence” punishable by 10 years in jail by allowing themselves
to be influenced by justice ministers Penuell Maduna and Brigitte
Mabandla to act against Zuma to keep him out of the ANC presidency. The
National Prosecuting Authority Act makes any extraneous attempt to
influence a prosecutor a criminal act.
Judge Nicholson draws parallels between this and the use of legislation
by the National Party against the ANC, arguing that “since time
immemorial the executive has cherished the notion of usurping the
independent function of the prosecuting authority and directing criminal
prosecutions at its political opponents”. The judge says: “Many
activists, fighting against the apartheid system, languished for many
years behind bars as a result of prosecutions at the instance of the
“It is of grave concern that this process has taken place in the new
South Africa, given the ravages that it caused under the apartheid order.”
Judge Nicholson argues that the present system, in which the president
appoints the National Director of Public Prosecutions, needs to be
replaced with a system similar to the way judges are appointed to end
the situation where the country’s top prosecutor depends on political
patronage for survival.
“If his security of tenure and independence is not assured and he can be
suspended by the executive, the whole legal process is in jeopardy,” he
The judgment also rolls back the campaign by Zuma’s backers to undermine
the judiciary in their campaign to kill off his prosecution.
The judgment emphasises the crucial role of judges not as “umpires” in
court cases but as defenders of the constitution, members of a “secular
priesthood that should remain apart from the taint of politics”.
Judge Nicholson is not shy to respond to the Constitutional Court’s
pronouncements about Zuma delaying his trial, saying that Judge
Qed’usizi Msimang had “correctly” struck the case from the roll two
years ago when the state asked for an additional adjournment.
“So all the blame for delays is not to be attributed” to Zuma, he says.
On a practical legal level, the judgment sets down the conditions under
which Zuma could again be prosecuted: decisions must be made on the
evidence and not at the behest of a president pushing buttons in the
Any new bid to bring him to court will have to be above board and
constitutional, not the result of backroom plots aimed at undermining
“the fountain of all our power and authority”.
What the judge has done is provide South Africa with a way out, a road
map to guide the ruling party — and the country — back to the path it
followed before the arms deal.
Vindicated, but not exonerated
Sunday Times Editorial Published:Sep 13, 2008
Judge Nicholson’s decision on ANC president Jacob Zuma’s latest attempt
to evade prosecution for his alleged crimes was a proud moment for South
Africa and a humiliating one for President Thabo Mbeki.
Many will claim vindication in the 114 pages of the judge’s decision to
declare the second round of charges against Zuma invalid. Some of them
will use it to amplify demands for Mbeki’s head.
In the long tradition of the KwaZulu-Natal bench, it was a watershed
ruling that laid down markers for our democratic development and it
deserves respect for more than just the decision on Zuma’s fate. But we
should not read more into his words than he said.
Judge Nicholson said the National Prosecuting Authority had erred in
charging Zuma for a second time without first hearing his side and that
the charges were therefore invalid. He said he would offer no opinion on
Zuma’s guilt or innocence, and he said there was evidence that Zuma
might have been right to allege a political conspiracy by Mbeki’s
executive to sideline him.
The ruling is an excellent application of the provisions of our
constitutional state. It reaffirmed that executive power is limited and
pointed out some of its boundaries, including the absolute prohibition
on direct or indirect influence of the judiciary and independent
Zuma may have been vindicated on his charge of political manipulation of
the criminal justice system, but he has not been exonerated on any of
the charges of corruption, fraud, money laundering and tax evasion. He
has merely dodged prosecution one more time.
Though it was not the purpose of the ruling, it almost certainly clears
the way for Zuma to become president of this republic. Even if he does
not win a permanent stay of prosecution when he returns to court in
November, the NPA will find it difficult to lay charges for a third time.
That means Zuma will probably never have the day in court that he
claimed to want, but spent so much time and money avoiding. Unless he
uses the presidential authority that will probably be his next year to
set up a credible arms-deal inquiry, the country may never get the
answers it deserves to the questions raised by the charges against him.
Our next president is likely to be a man tainted by serious allegations
which, if true, almost certainly disqualify him as a suitable national
Judge Nicholson’s comments on the actions of Mbeki and his executive
were brought on by the prosecution’s attempt to protect the president by
having certain defence allegations struck from the record. The judge’s
findings are so devastating that, despite Mbeki’s Pyrrhic victory amid
the ruins of a shattered Zimbabwe just 12 hours earlier, he has no
honourable option but to leave office.
Mbeki has regularly urged respect for the decisions of our courts. Now,
as those who had hoped the courts would block Zuma’s path to power have
done, he must accept the court’s finding and he must concede that the
prosecuting authority was influenced by fear of his anger.
We have argued for some months that it was time for Mbeki to go. Now we
have further evidence that his apparent respect for the institutions of
state was a facade and, once more, we urge him to resign in the
interests of the country he has failed to lead.
Judge Nicholson’s ruling offers an opportunity to review some of our
recent history and to learn from it. It underlines the need to reassert
the independence of our judiciary and to rebuild respect for our judges
and our courts. Those who would kill for Zuma might hail this decision,
but they must accept that they cannot pick and choose the judges and the
judgments they will accept.
We need to root out the bad habits that Judge Nicholson has identified,
such as the blurring of the divide between the Department of Justice and
the prosecutorial services, but we must ensure that the void left by
political manipulation is not filled by political thuggery.
As Mbeki prepares to depart — whether sooner or later — the ANC must
return to its noble roots and rediscover the ideals that fuelled the
struggle for liberation. Zuma and his executive must find the courage to
take charge, to lead and to halt our descent into political anarchy.
If they do not unconditionally defend the pillars of our new society, if
they continue to put opportunism ahead of principle or they simply
remain silent, they leave a vacuum to be filled by the likes of the ANC
Finance minister Trevor Manuel sounded a broad alarm in his Steve Biko
memorial lecture this week. In a call for leadership to lift the country
up, he said: “We need elites that plough back, not elites that plunder.”
Let it be so.
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