In South Africa, the leadership of the ruling ANC party is
holding a three-day meeting, at which it is expected to discuss whether to ask
President Thabo Mbeki to step down.
ANC members and related groups have called for his resignation, even though Mr.
Mbeki is in the final months of his second term. Some reports say those opposed
to Mr. Mbeki want to replace him with Baleka Mbete.
reporter Delia Robertson is following the story. From Johannesburg, she spoke
with English to Africa Service reporter Joe De Capua about the importance of
the issue in South Africa.
"It's important because if indeed the ANC does
decide this weekend to ask Mr. Mbeki to fall on his sword or to try to force
him out, the way in which it happens could have implications for the whole
country because you could end up having a constitutional crisis. And I think
that is what the ANC would like to avoid, if they do, indeed, make that
decision. We've heard from a number of people, but we haven't heard from the
entire National Executive Committee of the ANC. It's not exactly clear whether
the entire committee supports this maneuver," she says.
are some published reports that say if Mr. Mbeki is asked to step down, it
would be done in such a way as to avoid an early election. The presidential
election is scheduled for next April. Robertson explains why the ANC might want
to avoid an early vote.
ANC has lost support, according to current polls. Enough public support so that
they would not have a two-thirds majority in Parliament, if an election [were]
held today," she says.
such anger towards the president in some circles of the ANC? Robertson says,
"It goes around the prosecution of Jacob Zuma, the former deputy president of
the country and the current president of the African National Congress. Last
week, a judge implicated Mr. Mbeki. He said that it appears there has been
political meddling in the prosecution of Jacob Zuma. And this has given strength
to the arm of those people who say that the prosecution of Jacob Zuma is
corruption trial, which is related to a major arms deal, is currently at a
standstill because of a judge's recent technical ruling in the case. Robertson
outlines the judge's position. "The decision to prosecute Jacob Zuma was
invalid because certain procedural requirements had not been followed. He did,
however, very specifically say that his decision had nothing to do with the
merits of the case," she says.
The National Prosecuting Authority is
expected to appeal that decision.