Mbeki to be replaced as Zimbabwe mediator

PRETORIA, PRESIDENT Thabo Mbeki's spokesperson, Mukoni Ratshitanga, on Sunday told CAJ News in Pretoria that the expelled South African leader automatically ceases mediating in Zimbabwe's power-sharing negotiation following the ouster by his party of the African National Congress (ANC).\r\n

Gwede Mantashe, ANC’s secretary-general announced the sacking on Saturday in Johannesburg.

In an exclusive interview with CAJ News, Ratshitanga said the new ANC administration would takeover from president Mbeki, but without giving any specific dates when the Zimbabwe’s power-sharing talks would resume following a deadlock last week in Harare.

"The mediation in Zimbabwe’s power-sharing talks will be definitely affected, but it is a fact that the new administration will takeover.

"Remember when president mbeki mediated in the Zimbabwe power-sharing talks was doing so in his capacity as head of state, and the new administration will definitely replace him to that regard," said Ratshitanga.

He said president Mbeki had since accepted the call to step down, but refused to shed more details on what course of action Mbeki would take after the sack considering the fierce in-house fighting within the ANC.

Ronnie Mamoepe, South Africa’s Foreign Affairs spokesperson, refused to comment on the matter referring all issues to Ratshitanga.

CAJ News wanted to know the fate of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) chairmanship position, recently given to Mbeki if this would not affect the day-to-day tackling of regional problems.

Whilst president Mbeki had accepted the call by the party’s National Executive Council (NEC) to quit his post, millions of his supporters and almost half of the cabinet vowed to go with him when he leaves office.

First to confirm the move to quit with the president was the Foreign Affairs Deputy Minister, Pahad Aziz, who said there was nothing worth staying for.

"I was appointed by president Mbeki, and as such, I am quiting with him. I do not think the decision to fire him was correct," said Pahad.

South Africa’s Deputy President, Pumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, is also believed to be leaving the government in sympathy with the sacked president.

CAJ News could not get her comment by the time of going to press on Sunday, but several ministers, including defence, home affairs, foreign affairs, and local premiers (governors) are believed to be against the sacking.

ANC supporters, majority of them in the Eastern Cape, Northern Cape, Mpumalanga and Limpopo provinces have vowed to form a rival African National Congress splinter group in an attempt to express dissatisfaction over the harsh and cruedly decision to expel president Mbeki.

President Mbeki is expected to issue a statement tomorrow (Tuesday) in parliament when he tenders his resignation.

Since the elections in Polokwane, Limpopo province to choose the new ANC leadership, there is always fierce rift between president Mbeki and his former deputy president, Jacob Zuma, who convincingly won the party’s presidency last year.

Zuma is being backed by both the Congress of South Africa Trade Unions (COSATU) and the South Africa Communist Party (SAC)