Mbeki won't be ousted, says ANC

President Thabo Mbeki is to stay in office despite another attempt to remove him this weekend by alliance partners.

On Sunday, ANC secretary-general Gwede Mantashe was dismissive of calls to have Mbeki removed, arguing that the alliance summit had "not decided" on the motion that was put forward by the South African Communist Party (SACP) and others to have Mbeki removed from office.

"There is no such decision of the alliance," he said, stating that the media should not focus on issues that were raised during the summit but rather on the outcomes.

SACP general secretary Blade Nzimande was also dismissive of the discussions relating to Mbeki's possible axing as the country's president.

"It was raised only as an optional consideration by the SACP but it is not a matter that has been decided by the summit," he said.

It is understood that Tokyo Sexwale, businessman and ANC national executive committee member, also expressed concern about an unworkable transition in which Mbeki remained the country's president after losing the party's leadership to Jacob Zuma in Polokwane.

Former Limpopo premier Ngoako Ramatlhodi is said to have been blunt about urging the summit to deal with Mbeki for committing too many mistakes.

But Mantashe said the summit had opted not to lay blame at anybody's feet for the problems facing the country but rather to address them.

He said Mbeki would not be required to "take an instruction" from the alliance on how to resolve the problems but the alliance and government would meet to discuss solutions.

Two additional summits - a broad summit for all allies of the movement and later a governance summit involving only the alliance and government - are planned for later this year at which problems and possible solutions will be debated.

It believed that Mbeki's saving grace was the tight time constraints and the many other challenges faced by the ANC and the alliance partners - the SACP and Cosatu - as they gear up for next year's general election, which must take place before June.

However, the ANC, not leaving anything to chance, has got its way and deployed the party's deputy president, Kgalema Motlanthe, to Parliament, despite his apparent resistance to the move.

"You win some, you lose some," Motlanthe said on Sunday after being questioned on what he thought of losing his fight to stay at Luthuli House.

The ANC has noted that his move to Parliament last week had paved the way for Motlanthe to be placed in the Cabinet, where he is expected to learn the ropes and facilitate next year's hand-over of government.

The alliance summit on Sunday reiterated its full support for Zuma, despite the resumption of his fraud, racketeering, money laundering and corruption trial on August 14.

"We will not only be accompanying him to court but to the Union Buildings as the next president of South Africa," Mantashe said, reading the alliance declaration.

He said Zuma remained the ANC candidate for president and that "hypothetical situations" of him being charged or sentenced would not change that fact.

"I don't think it's a correct leadership approach to deal with hypothesis... when the alliance summit met, there was no case in court and we cannot do an analysis of that case in court," he said.

Meanwhile, the summit raised deep concern about the devastating impact of rising food prices.

Called for urgent action, the meeting suggested the removal of Value Added Tax (VAT) on a wide range of basic foods.

Mantashe suggested that the impact of such a move could be countered by increasing personal and corporate taxes, which impacted less on the poor.

"VAT impacts heavily on the poor. Personal tax and corporate tax impacts more on the working and the rich," he said.

The summit also called for the urgent intervention of the alliance, Parliament and the government to resolve the SABC board crisis.

"The current board is not sufficiently representative. The alliance is committed to an SABC that is truly a public broadcaster and whose board is representative of all sections of society," Mantashe said.

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