Statement by ANC President Jacob Zuma on behalf of the ANC National Executive Committee

'Focus on the challenges facing our people'
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The Independent Online

The National Executive Committee of the ANC met over the weekend of 19-21 September 2008, to deliberate on various pertinent issues. After careful debate and discussion the NEC decided to recall Comrade Thabo Mbeki.

This was one of the most difficult decisions the NEC has ever had to take in the history of the ANC. We fully understand that the decision comes with a degree of pain to Comrade Mbeki, his family, friends, members of the ANC, ordinary South Africans and members of the international community with whom we interact.

Comrade Mbeki has devoted decades of his life to the ANC and our country. The decision to recall him was not taken lightly, but it had to be taken in the interests of making the country move forward. The country needs a strong and united ruling party at the helm of government, capable of galvanising support for the government's development agenda.

As the ruling party we need to sustain the confidence of our people in the ANC and its government. Once this level of confidence is weakened, the ANC has no alternative but to take action. We appreciate the cooperation of Comrade Mbeki and the dignified manner with which he has conducted himself during this difficult situation.

When we met with the President Thabo Mbeki on Friday morning, ahead of the NEC discussion, he said that as a disciplined cadre of the movement he would readily accept and abide by any decision of the organisation and subject himself to its wishes.

The ANC prides itself on having leaders who rise to the occasion, who put the organisation and the country first, no matter how challenging the circumstances may be. Comrade Mbeki will continue to be given tasks as a cadre and one of the senior leaders of the movement. We are united in our appreciation of the important role that Comrade Mbeki has played in the organisation and broader liberation movement.

The achievements of government during Comrade Mbeki's Presidency are impressive. The ANC government has created conditions for a sustained expansion of the South African economy since the Second World War with the rate of growth averaging over 4.5% a year since 2004.

Government also scored several gains in the social arena such as increasing access to housing, water, education, electricity and other basic services. Comrade Mbeki also succeeded in placing Africa in the forefront of international debates. He made his mark in promoting an African renewal as well as South-South cooperation, between our country and the developing world.

In addition, our country made history as we joined the UN Security Council as a non-permanent member. The Mbeki administration, building on the legacy of our icon President Nelson Mandela, has definitely created a strong foundation for the ANC to successfully contest next year's elections.

In light of this weekend's developments, we will do all in our power to ensure that stability is maintained in governance and service delivery. The Speaker of the National Assembly has informed us that she has received the letter of resignation from President Mbeki.

Working together with Parliament, we will ensure that the election of a new President takes place as speedily as possible. There is no reason for South Africans to be apprehensive. The transition will be managed with care and precision. We will announce the name of our Candidate in Parliament at an appropriate moment. We have in Cabinet many experienced Ministers including the Deputy President of the ANC, Comrade Kgalema Motlanthe. I am convinced that if given that responsibility he would be equal to the task.

It should be borne in mind that Comrade Mbeki led an ANC government. We therefore expect a smooth transition, as this is not a change of party but only leadership in government. We call upon all ANC Ministers and Deputy Ministers, to continue their work and serve the people of our country, supported by the Public Service, which is not affected at all by these changes.

We also appeal to all South Africans to support the government and its new leadership, and work with them to promote access to a better life for all. Within the ANC we will continue the work for organisational renewal and unity. We will be sending NEC deployees to all provinces and regions to brief our structures on the new developments.

We will also brief civil society formations and other key stakeholders to ensure their understanding of the decision. Most importantly, we will be hosting the 2010 FIFA World Cup. We will support our government to make the World Cup a huge success for the African continent and the world.

The ANC led by its President and the NEC will now focus energies on preparing for the 2009 elections and the new administration next year. After the elections, the ANC will take further the fight against crime to build safer communities, as stated in our Polokwane resolutions. We will focus more on improving the quality of health service delivery and the reduction of diseases such as HIV and AIDS, tuberculosis and others.

We will prioritise education and skills development, as well as land and agrarian reform, as key tools in the fight against poverty. We have decided to make the creation of decent work opportunities the primary focus of our economic policies. This means we have to achieve sound economic growth and development, in spite of the global economic crisis.

Our economic policies will remain stable, progressive and unchanged, as decided upon in previous ANC national conferences including Polokwane. We will take forward the transformation of our criminal justice system, to promote access to justice for all, poor and rich, rural and urban, men and women.

The rule of law and the independence of the judiciary are amongst the most fundamental principles in our country's Constitution, which the ANC will always protect and defend. We would like to underline that we acknowledge and accept the ruling of Justice Chris Nicholson and reiterate that we will, as always, abide by the decisions of this and all courts in our country.

We appreciate the prevailing atmosphere of calmness and maturity that has accompanied the recall. We have clearly matured as a democracy and we should all be proud. We have made a painful and difficult decision, and we are convinced that it will bring about much needed stability in government and public life and enable us to focus on the challenges facing our country.

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