Mbeki fracas leaves messy political scene

President Thabo Mbeki’s planned resignation after his ANC turned on him leaves South Africa’s leaders with the arduous task of rebuilding a messy political scene, media reported on Sunday.

The Sunday Independent declared South Africa had woken up to a new political reality under the headline “Thabo’s Shame” while the Sunday Times screamed “Out!” next to a picture of the embattled leader.

Mbeki’s agreeing to resign after Saturday’s announcement from his African National Congress that he was being asked to step down follows a week of bloodthirsty politicking by his rivals in the party.

Months of discontent with the lame-duck president reached a zenith this week after a court ruling throwing out graft charges against ANC president Jacob Zuma hinted Mbeki’s government had interfered in the decision to prosecute him.

Sunday Times editor Mondli Makhanya likened events leading up to Mbeki’s agreeing to resign to a constitutional coup d’etat.

Makhanya compared the week’s events to those in 1989 when PW Botha was forced to relinquish power of the white minority ruling National Party after a stroke, to reformist FW De Klerk who eventually led the country toward democracy.

“Today we are seeing similar scenes play themselves out. A once-feared Mbeki is being removed from office by people who had trembled before him.”

A front page commentary on the Sunday Times said removing Mbeki was the right thing to do, but however said the ANC’s motives were questionable.

“No matter the official reasons, there can be little doubt that this was done to protect ANC president Jacob Zuma, who faced charges of corruption and is a deeply flawed leader.”

The opinion piece said the ANC had to move past this “painful period” and create a government accountable to the country, restoring order and respect to its ranks.

“You are the government, start acting that way,” read the headline.

Makhanya also urged leaders to rebuild as they faced less treacherous, but clumsier times than those after the fall of apartheid.

“We spent the first 15 years of our democracy entrusting our future to a political party.
That party, which had liberated us, was going to have all the answers. Its stalwarts were going to deliver all the solutions.

“We cannot afford to live the next 15 years in such blind hope.” - AFP

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