South Africa Military Chief Quits Over Report of Alleged Coup Plot
South Africa’s military chief announced his resignation Monday after a controversy stirred up by a report about a coup plot that the government says never existed.
Gen. Georg Meiring admitted no wrongdoing but said he was stepping down because he was responsible for turning over “uncorroborated” evidence about the supposed plot to President Nelson Mandela.
“The action that resulted from my giving the report caused certain . . . mistrust,” Meiring said in a statement. “I feel it is my duty to do the honorable thing.”
Mandela said that he accepted the resignation “with regret” and that he had agreed to let Meiring, a holdover from the apartheid era, retire early.
Meiring’s resignation takes effect May 31. Gen. Siphiwe Nyanda, a former anti-apartheid guerrilla and Meiring’s understudy in recent months, is considered a likely successor.
Nyanda was one of several military and government officials named in a report Meiring gave Mandela on Feb. 5 alleging that members of the governing African National Congress were involved in a plot to destabilize the country and topple the government.
Mandela says he never believed the report, and his government has repeatedly insisted that there was no plot. Some government officials called the report part of a disinformation campaign by apartheid-era elements in the military.
On March 27, Mandela appointed a three-judge commission to investigate how the report was compiled, how it was leaked to the media and why it never went through normal intelligence channels.
The commission cited flaws in how the report was compiled and handled, leading to accusations of rogue elements in the military sowing false information.
Meiring, 58, denied he was under any pressure to step down.