|April 29 and 30, 2001
South Africa: Mbeki controversy
Sunday newspapers took
this week's controversy about an alleged plot by political rivals to overthrow
President Thabo Mbeki further this weekend, with some also reporting emerging
challenges to his deputy.
The Johannesburg-published Sunday Times
front page lead covered crisis management talks by the ANC and inside published
the documents in which former African National Congress Youth League leader
James Nkambule made the plot allegations. The documents implicated former
politicians turned businessmen Cyril Ramaphosa, Tokyo Sexwale and Mathews
Phosa. The newspaper said it published the documents because it was in the
public's interest to know the allegations but stressed it did not authenticate
the claims. The first document, a four-page "Report to the President" was
penned by Nkambule in October last year who said he faxed it to the National
Intelligence Agency. The second document, an affidavit by Nkambule, was made to
police in Pretoria on Tuesday. The paper reported that Safety and Security
Minister Steve Tshwete had ordered tighter security measures to be put in place
The Sunday Independent front page report went under the
headlines "Plot set up real threat to Mbeki" and "Anger at public mauling of
three senior ANC leaders has backfired against the president and his
followers." The Independent's editorial "Time to move on Tshwete", called for
the minister to be sanctioned for his actions. "It is also good news that an
open challenge to the president is at least possible. Democracy is starting to
kick in a dramatic way," the paper wrote. It called for debate on the
relationship between the ruling party and the state. Under what circumstances
was it justified to use the state security resources to counter a physical
threat to the president, the paper questioned.
City Press columnist
and popular national radio broadcaster Tim Modise under the headline, "Blurring
of the line between party and state went too far", also followed the same line.
He said it was time for the ANC to transform itself from a movement with a
loosely defined culture and discipline to a party that differentiates itself
from the state and expels leaders it no longer wants.
Sunday newspaper, Rapport led its main edition with a report that top ANC
leaders and officials in the Presidency were meeting through the weekend on
initiatives to defuse the crisis. It reported one proposal had been to issue a
joint statement by Mbeki and the three alleged conspirators. In its editorial,
the newspaper said it was up to Mbeki to act decisively.
Press's front page story said that candidates lobbying for the position of
deputy president had started in several provinces and named front-runners as
ANC national chairman Mosioua Lekota and Eastern Cape premier Makhenkesi
Stofile. Sowetan Sunday World's editorial said Tshwete's revelation of a plot
to oust Mbeki was unwise.
Former South African president Nelson
Mandela gave a vote of confidence to embattled President Thabo Mbeki in London.
"Thabo Mbeki is a remarkable man, he is intelligent, very bright, alert, hard
working - he is the driving force between the present government," he told the
BBC. "I will gladly support him for the second term." Asked to comment on
rumours of a plot by rivals within the ruling African National Congress (ANC)
to challenge the president, Mandela reiterated his confidence in the three
accused men. "Until there is concrete and credible evidence to the contary, I
will continue to hold Cyril Ramaphosa, Tokyo Sexwale and Mathews Phosa in high
esteem," he said. Mandela added that Ramaphosa "would be one of the right
people to lead South Africa" should the businessman decide one day to run for
president. South Africa's first black president added that the ANC had never
been as strong as it was today. Mandela is in London on a four-day visit to
take part in celebrations marking the seventh anniversary of the end of
apartheid in South Africa. He was to attend Sunday a "Freedom Day" concert in
Trafalgar Square, where the South African embassy is located. REM, Atomic
Kitten and the Corrs were among the groups billed to play at the concert
(South African Press Agency).