Corlett Letlojane [Director, Human Rights Institute of South Africa]: "First and foremost, many people are saddened by the unceremonious departure of the President of South Africa, when his term of office is only ending in April 2008.
Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu, who chairs the group known as The Elders, is an elder statesman playing a major role in reconciliation, a leading moral voice, and an icon of hope within and beyond South Africa, who expressed his sadness for the way the African National Congress (ANC) National Executive Committee shamed President Thabo Mbeki and the nation. Mbeki was made to leave his office before using the opportunity to state his side of the story. His resignation comes amid legal action on corrupt allegations brought against the President of the ANC, Jacob Zuma.
The Human Rights Institute of South Africa has been following the Arms deal case and many controversial issues troubling the country such as the suspension of the Director of National Prosecution, Mr Vusi Pikoli; the reluctance of the government to press criminal charges against Jackie Selebi, the National Commissioner of the South African Police Service, who is currently suspended and on extended leave as National Police Commissioner; the controversy around whether HIV causes AIDS; the public averments that by the ANC Youth and COSATU leaders that they are prepared to "kill" for Jacob Zuma in their bid to drop prosecution charges against him. These are serious issues that concerned South Africans battle to comprehend and deal with.
HURISA shares the same sentiments with the rest of those troubled by these issues and the manner in which the government handled these matters. However, we still believe that in a country premised on the principles of human rights, the rule of law, transparency, good governance, and accountability these issues do not justify the dismissal of Thabo Mbeki from office.
South Africa serves as a model of democracy around the region and globe. However what has transpired in the political field of government left animosity and shame to the ANC. For starters, as a political party enjoying majority rule, and secondly, the country as a whole feels this shame as a champion of human rights.
Although the issue had come at time when South Africa's democracy has matured, it has left a dent on the ANC as a majority party and leader of the country. They might disagree with this statement but it is a well known fact that some of these issues have serious ramifications and caused a split in the ANC.
Sadly, opposition is so weak in South Africa that the ANC can assume manifested roles including that of opposition within itself as a structure. This has cast doubt on their objectiveness and genuineness in serving as a referee and player.
What is left now is to wonder what sort of future does the ANC hold for the ordinary South African? How come they have not been vigorous in upholding their constitutional obligations with the nation under social and economic rights as compared to the way they advocated for Mbeki's resignation? When are they going to address the inequality of the past as abject poverty is on the surface, the gap between the rich and poor is on the increase, creation of jobs for the unemployed is lacking, provision of sufficient housing to the historically marginalised is poor, and there is lack of a monitoring system for effective delivery of social contingencies?
We expected the ANC to live up to the socio-economic contract they have with the nation as they promised to uphold by delivery and not by washing the party's dirty linen in public. We are not impressed! The demise of Mbeki brought unexpected breaking news adding to more sadness and disappointment: As of today, letters of resignation with immediate effect are received from the following high profile cabinet minsters and deputies: Deputy President, Minister of Defence, Minister of Finance, Minister in Presidency, Dr Essop Pahad, Minister of Intelligence, Minister of Correctional Services, Minister of Public Enterprices, Minister of Science and Technology, Minister Public Works, Minister of Provincial and Local Government, Minister of Public Service and Administration, the Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, Deputy Minister of Finance, Deputy Minister of Correctional Services."