September 10, 2005

ANC committee agrees to Mbeki's Zuma plan to set up a commission of inquiry

The African National Congress's National Executive Committee has endorsed President Thabo Mbeki's call for a commission of inquiry into claims that there had been a plot against former deputy president Jacob Zuma. This and other options to resolve the crisis around Zuma having been axed will be under the spotlight at a specially convened NEC meeting to be held as soon as possible, secretary-general Kgalema Motlanthe has announced. At the meeting, both Mbeki and Zuma, as president and deputy president of the party respectively, would make recommendations about how the NEC "should engage the substantive discussion of the matter at hand". The party's national working committee had already approved of the establishment of the commission in principle. The ANC's alliance partners, the SA Communist Party and the Congress of SA Trade Unions have both rejected the idea of a commission. They believe it will not address the broader problems facing the alliance and the problems which have arisen regarding the treatment of Zuma.
Meanwhile, ANC spokesman Smuts Ngonyama called on alliance partners to respect the decision and await the outcome of decisions taken at the specially convened NEC meeting. He also called on all its members, including the Youth League and Women's League, "to respect the fact that the NEC has decided on a process led by the president and the deputy president, and should therefore not engage in any activity outside this process". Ngonyama further warned that the ANC needed to be vigilant against unhealthy forces and even counter-revolutionaries that could exploit the organisation should there be a lack of decisive leadership. "Some of these forces would be driven by opportunism, others by a counter-revolutionary agenda to weaken the ANC and undermine transformation, and yet others by attempts to hide behind the campaign to pursue illegal and corrupt activities," he read in a statement. Motlanthe admitted the Zuma crisis was the most serious the ruling party had faced since 1994. "That’s why we are taking extraordinary steps averting the eventuality of the ANC's cohesion and unity being undermined." Commenting on criticism from the ANC's alliance partners that the party has been "laid back" in dealing with the crisis, Motlanthe said the NEC's latest decision was part of a process that would offer leadership. Some members of the alliance believe there is a politically inspired conspiracy to stop Zuma from becoming the next president of the ANC.
Zuma was fired as South Africa's deputy president in July after he was found by Durban High Court to have had a "generally corrupt" relationship with his financial advisor Schabir Shaik. Zuma was then charged on two counts of corruption. He is to appear in the Durban Magistrate's Court in October. (Independent Online, South Africa)

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