Former Cape Town Anglican Archbishop Desmond Tutu yesterday came out against the ANC leadership's decision to fire President Thabo Mbeki, describing the move as the settling of political scores.
Describing the ANC leadership under Jacob Zuma as "new cocks of the walk", Tutu said their decision "has put South Africa on a path to becoming a banana republic".
Last year in December, before the ANC conference, Tutu urged the party to reject Zuma as its presidential candidate.
He then urged the ANC delegates "not to choose someone of whom most of us would be ashamed".
"Although he is very likeable, we have to ask ourselves: 'What is happening in the ANC?'" Tutu said.
Tutu described Mbeki's firing as part of the settling of political scores by the ANC leadership under Zuma.
"The so-called recalling of the President fits the pattern of the settling of scores and the throwing about of weight that has happened post-Polokwane," Tutu told the media yesterday.
"Why sack two premiers with only a few months of their terms left to run, and then to re-employ one of them in the Presidency if it is not to prove that there are new cocks of the walk?" Tutu asked.
Tutu said that Mbeki's enemies had at last "got their revenge".
But he slammed this revenge as "arrogant, cynical opportunism".
"At one moment they can, when judges find against them, call the judges 'part of a counter-revolution', and when they do find in their favour represent 'judicial triumph'," he said.
Tutu said the electoral system must be changed so that citizens vote directly for a president.
"Party lists produce sycophants and must be abolished," he said.
Tutu said he believed that ANC president Jacob Zuma should still face his day in court.
"We must be certain that the people who lead us are as uncorrupt as possible and we cannot go on wondering 'is he or isn't he?'" Tutu said, referring to the fact that Zuma has not been found innocent of corruption and bribery.
Tutu hit out at calls for a political solution to Zuma's problems, who faced corruption charges, though he has succeeded in having the court rule that the charges were part of a political conspiracy against him.
"Political solutions are for extraordinary circumstances like a transition from oppression to freedom. We can't keep having special mechanisms every time something concerns us. Who decides who gets the special treatment?" he asked.
Tutu was guarded on speculation that Mbeki loyalists were setting up a new party.
"It may very well be that some feel they are constrained by their commitment to the ANC. Let's see whether the party is viable."
But he cautioned that "when we think of the many who have sacrificed, you ask how could we want to subvert this", implying that a new party would not be in the interests of uniting the country.
The archbishop is well-known for his run-ins with the ANC leadership. He has previously accused the ANC leadership, including Mbeki , of having lost touch with the masses and running fiefdoms.