&to=http:// english.pravda.ru/world/20/91/367/10409_Africa.html ' target=_blank>Thabo Mbeki, the South African president, yesterday fired Jacob Zuma, his deputy, in a move designed to send a strong signal that he would not tolerate corruption in his administration.
The president announced his decision in a special session of parliament, sending shockwaves through the political establishment. The move was welcomed by opposition parties but risks alienating the left wing of the ruling African National Congress party. Mr Zuma, an ANC stalwart who worked underground with Mr Mbeki during the anti-apartheid struggle, enjoys popular support.
"In the interest of the honourable deputy president, the government, our young democratic system and our country, it would be best to release вЂ¦ &to=http:// english.pravda.ru/usa/2001/11/20/21393.html ' target=_blank>Jacob Zuma from his responsibilities," Mr Mbeki told parliament.
The decision comes less than two weeks after Mr Zuma was implicated by a court in a high-profile corruption trial. Mr Zuma said he accepted the decision. "[Mr Mbeki] has taken this decision not because he believes I am guilty of any crime but because of considerations relating to the constraints in which government operates."
Mr Zuma is the most senior person to be removed from political office since South Africa's first democratic election in 1994. Though Mr Zuma has not been charged, the court found that there had been a "generally corrupt" relationship between him and his former financial adviser, Schabir Shaik. Mr Shaik was convicted earlier this month of fraud and corruption and jailed for 15 years, reports the Financial Times.
Zuma's firing comes at a time of increased graft-fighting efforts across Africa - and with the issue of corruption looming large. Rich nations like the US and Britain are preparing to pour billions of new dollars into fighting poverty on the continent, contingent on good governance by the recipients.
To be sure, corruption is still widespread: On Transparency International's global corruption index, 18 of the 50 worst nations are in Africa. But outside pressure and homegrown transparency efforts are making a difference, informs the Can Christian Monitor.