ANC backs Motlanthe over decision to axe Pikoli

The African National Congress (ANC) national working committee (NWC) supported President Kgalema Motlanthe and his decision to axe National Prosecuting Authority chief Vusi Pikoli, it said on Tuesday.

The top leadership of the ruling party also urged the speedy appointment of a permanent national police chief.

The ANC released a media statement after the NWC held a meeting on Monday to discuss various issues, including reports of tensions between Motlanthe and some ANC leaders.

“The NWC confirmed the ANC’s support for the decision of the President of the republic, Kgalema Motlanthe, regarding the position of the National Director of Public Prosecutions [NDPP],” the statement read.

“The meeting reaffirmed the need to move quickly to finalise this matter in Parliament and ensure that the post is filled.”

Pikoli, the former NDPP, was suspended by former president Thabo Mbeki in September 2007, a move Pikoli had blamed on his refusal to bow to political pressure not to prosecute now-suspended police National Commissioner Jackie Selebi.

Motlanthe refused to reinstate Pikoli despite an independent inquiry finding that there was no evidence to suggest he was not fit to hold office.

Pikoli is scheduled to make a presentation to an ad-hoc parliamentary committee probing his dismissal on Tuesday.

On Wednesday, Motlanthe’s office will defend his decision to fire Pikoli before the committee will advise MPs on whether to endorse his dismissal.

“The NWC also urged progress in placing the management of the South African Police Service on a permanent footing capable of giving effective direction to the fight against crime,” the statement read.

Selebi is scheduled to go on trial for corruption amounting to R12-million in April. His contract was extended by a year last June.

The ANC also reacted to weekend newspaper reports of tensions between Motlanthe and some ANC leaders.

“The ANC reaffirms its confidence in the president of the republic, and pledges its full support in the execution of his responsibilities,” the statement read.

“The ANC will continue, as it has done for 15 years, to discuss any relevant matters within its structures, and to provide strategic direction to its deployees in government without interfering with government processes.

“This is an established practice in South Africa and in many countries across the world, and does not detract from the ability of deployees in government from carrying out their mandated function,” the ANC said.

The Sunday Times reported that some senior ANC members were unhappy with several decisions Motlanthe had taken since succeeding Mbeki, who was ousted after the Pietermaritzburg High Court implied that he was involved in a political plot against ANC leader Jacob Zuma.

The City Press reported that South African Communist Party secretary general Blade Nzimande was eyeing the position of deputy president of the country after general elections.
Up to now, many believed Motlanthe had been earmarked for that job.

The City Press claimed several sources had confirmed there was a group within the ANC opposed to Motlanthe becoming Zuma’s deputy president.

“The NWC rejected any suggestions that ANC national executive committee member Blade Nzimande was involved in any campaign to undermine any individuals within the organisation or government,” the ANC said.

“It warned against those propagating falsehoods, and those giving credence to such rumours,” the statement concluded.—Sapa

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