FORMER president Thabo Mbeki has denied firing President Jacob Zuma during his term in office.
Mbeki said Zuma asked to be relieved of his duties so he could focus on his legal battles, including corruption charges relating to the Arms Deal.
The charges were later dropped on the eve of the ANC’s elective conference in Polokwane, where Zuma defeated Mbeki to become ANC president.
In the third of his series of letters, Mbeki denied that Zuma was fired by an NEC meeting. He claimed the lie was spread to make the public believe he had a hand in having Zuma fired.
Mbeki said the description by his former advisor, Reverend Frank Chikane, of the events in his book Eight Days in September, was accurate.
“The truth, as I can recollect, is that Comrade Zuma had decided to stand down as deputy president of the ANC, at least for a while, to give himself a chance to focus on the case against him,” Chikane wrote in his book. The NEC had reluctantly accepted his chosen path after a long meeting which went on into the early hours.”
Mbeki and Chikane claimed events were manipulated to make it appear as if the NEC had fired Zuma as ANC deputy president and that the National General Council – the delegates representing the branches of the ANC – had him reinstated.
He also disputed media reports claiming he had centralised political power as head of state and president of the ruling party.
Mbeki said without fail, the party discussed decisions during NEC meetings while government discussed issues during lekgotla meetings where alliance partners were represented. He said the ANC’s National Working Committee also considered government matters and would invite relevant ministers and deputy ministers to attend such meetings.