Zuma retains widespread support
South African President Thabo Mbeki has dismissed his deputy, Jacob Zuma.
This comes after the trial of Mr Zuma's financial adviser, Schabir
Shaik, appeared to implicate the deputy president in corruption.
Mr Mbeki said that in the light of the need to defend South Africa's
young democracy, "it would be best to release Jacob Zuma of his
Addressing parliament, Mr Mbeki emphasised that Mr Shaik's conviction
could be overturned on appeal.
The South African constitution allows the president to hire and fire
other members of the executive.
In the past week, Mr Zuma's supporters in the trade union movement
and the Youth League of the ANC have rallied in his support.
Opposition parties and the media had demanded that the deputy
president resign, or respond to the questions raised during the
trialof Schabir Shaik, who was formerly Mr Zuma's financial adviser.
Mr Zuma has protested his innocence, and said he has been tried by the media.
In making a decision on Mr Zuma's future, Mr Mbeki has had to weigh
the deputy president's popularity against the need to be seen to be
acting against corruption.
Shaik was convicted of corruption and fraud two weeks ago, and
sentenced last week to an effective 15 years' imprisonment.
The corruption charges against him involved his dealings with Mr
Zuma, and the court found that Mr Shaik had had a "generally corrupt
relationship" with the deputy president.
Mr Shaik's trial stemmed from an earlier investigation into a South
African government arms deal, in which the then chief prosecutor said
there was prima facie evidence against Mr Zuma, but decided there was
not sufficient evidence to convict the deputy president.
Following the Shaik verdict, the National Prosecuting Authority is
reported once again to be investigating charges against Mr Zuma.