/ 21 September 2008

Mbeki resigns before the nation

President Thabo Mbeki has tendered his resignation, he said in a live television broadcast on Sunday.

Today [Sunday] I handed a letter to the Speaker of the National Assembly, the honourable Baleka Mbete, to tender my resignation from the high position of president of the Republic of South Africa effective from the day that will be determined by the national assembly.”

”I have been a long member of the African National Congress for 52 years. I remain a member of the ANC and therefore respect its decisions. It is for this reason that I have taken the decision to resign as president of the republic following the decision of the National Executive Committee of the ANC”.

”I would like sincerely to thank the nation and the ANC for having given me the opportunity to serve in public office during the last 14 years as the deputy president and the president of the ANC, ” he said.

”This service has at all times been based on the vision, the principles and values that have guided the ANC as it prosecuted a difficult and dangerous struggle in the decades before the attainment of our freedom in 1994”.

”We as government embarked from 1994 on policies and programmes directed at pulling the people of South African out of the morass of poverty and ensuring that we build a stable, developed and prosperous country”.

Mbeki said his administration had always fought for the independence of the judiciary.

He denied that he had colluded with prosecutors against African National Congress president Jacob Zuma as part of a power struggle within the party.

Mbeki also referred to the ‘inferences” made by Pietermaritzburg High Court Judge Chris Nicholson.

In his ruling on 12 September, Nicholson said it appeared that Mbeki and Justice and Constitutional Development Minister Brigitte Mabandla had colluded with prosecutors against Zuma as part of a power struggle within the party.

”I would like to restate the position of Cabinet on the inferences made by the honourable Judge Chris Nicholson that the president and Cabinet have interfered in the work of the National Prosecuting Authority.”

”Again I would like to state this categorically that we have never done this and therefore never compromised the right of the National Prosecuting Authority to decide whom it wished to prosecute or not to prosecute.”

”This applies equally to the painful matter relating to the court proceedings against the president of the ANC, comrade Jacob Zuma.”

”More generally I would like to assure the nation that our successive governments since 1994 have never acted in any manner intended wilfully to violate the Constitution and the law.”

Mbeki said his administration had ‘transformed the economy” and said that it had enjoyed the longest period of sustained growth to date. He also said the government had introduced an indigent policy which reached a large number of South Africans in need.

He pointed to the achievements of the millennium development goals, the empowerment of woman, the fact that SA had won the right to host the Soccer World Cup and the election of the country to a non-permanent seat on the United Nations Security Council.

He also listed the country’s record of conflict resolution in Africa, and mentioned Lesotho, the Democratic of Congo, Burundi, Sudan and Zimbabwe.

New president
The ANC will on Monday nominate a new state president, treasurer general Mathews Phosa said.

”What we want to do tomorrow is announce a new state president and he or she will then announce a new Cabinet,” Phosa told a current affairs show on state television on Sunday, later clarifying that the party would announce a ”nominee”.

Supporters of Mbeki may split from the ANC and contest elections as a breakaway party in 2009, the Sunday Times said.

The move threatens to shatter the foundations of the country’s post-apartheid political landscape, which has been dominated by the ANC since the end of white minority rule in 1994.