_44315332_winnie_zuma_ap_203.jpgAfrican National Congress (ANC) members voted in the 80-member NEC after sacked Deputy President Jacob Zuma defeated President Thabo Mbeki as party leader. Some of Mr Mbeki’s closest allies failed to make it onto the NEC. In his first public comments since his defeat, Mr Mbeki said he did not plan to step down early as president. “I would expect the government to serve its term until the elections in 2009,” Mr Mbeki said at a news conference at government headquarters in Pretoria.

Mr Mbeki said that he planned to work with his rival, whom he said had given “a summary of the way forward, to which all members of the ANC need to respond positively”. But Mr Zuma faces corruption charges, which prosecutors say are imminent. He has said he is ready to go to court to clear his name. Referring to the allegations, Mr Mbeki said: “All of us in the ANC have insisted, even… Zuma himself, that the law must take its course.” Mr Zuma’s supporters have always said the charges are a political conspiracy against him.

Ms Madikizela-Mandela, the ex-wife of former President Nelson Mandela, was endorsed by 2,845 of the 3,605 delegates to the conference in the northern town of Polokwane. She has not been active in the ANC since 2003, when she was convicted of fraud. Earlier this month she stepped back into the spotlight when she proposed a face-saving compromise deal between Mr Mbeki and Mr Zuma – a suggestion that was not taken up.

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