September 20, 2008

South African Opposition Parties Condemn Mbeki’s Ouster

Text of report by website of non-profit South African Press Association (SAPA) news agency

The United Democratic Movement has condemned the manner in which the ANC recalled President Thabo Mbeki on Saturday, describing it as "an act of political barbarity."

"To remove the head of state like this is an act of political barbarity that threatens to plunge the country into anarchy," Bantu Holomisa said in a statement on Saturday.

The Pan Africanist Congress of Azania said the ANC decision was "informed by its desire to pre-empt the appeal by the National Prosecuting Authority (of Pietermaritzburg High Court Judge Chris Nicholson's ruling that the charges of fraud and corruption against party President Jacob Zuma were invalid)".

The Independent Democrats would like a clear indication of how the ANC would deal with the impact of Mbeki's exit, ID leader Patricia de Lille said.

"We would like to see a clear plan by the ANC to deal with the impact Mbeki's exit will have on the running of government, service delivery, economic stability and international relations."

The Young Communist League welcomed the ANC's decision and appealed to cabinet ministers not to resign.

"As YCL we believe that the Ministers owe their allegiance to the constitution and the citizens of our country, and not to an individual," National Secretary Buti Manamela said.

Head of the Democratic Alliance Helen Zille said the decision meant the ANC's internal battles had turned into a crisis for South Africa.

"ANC factionalism has long undermined government's ability to deliver, and it now threatens to destabilise the entire country."

She said the move was a clear attempt to find a "political solution" to Jacob Zuma's legal problems.

"Replacing President Mbeki with a Zuma proxy will open the way for them to ensure that he does not have to face a court of law," she said.

"If Zuma is put above the law it will do more to undermine the Constitution than anything else."

She said it was "untenable" for Zuma to assume the presidency without being acquitted of corruption charges by a court of law.

"Judge Nicholson's judgment was not an acquittal."

Inkatha Freedom Party president Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi said the NEC's decision represented the biggest challenge to SA since apartheid.

"The decision of the ANC obviously has serious ramifications for the country's political, economic stability and statecraft.

He said history would judge Mbeki as a "towering figure" who consolidated President Nelson Mandela's remarkable legacy and promoted the notion of an "African Renaissance".

He said having known Mbeki for nearly 30 years, it was clear to him that "This is a man who cares deeply about South Africa's developmental challenges, stable economic framework and her place in the world.

"My wife, family and Party join me in wishing President Mbeki and his wife, Zanele, God's richest blessings and good fortune for their future life together."

Originally published by SAPA news agency website, Johannesburg, in English 1411 20 Sep 08.

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