President Thabo Mbeki has told the nation that neither him nor his cabinet had interfered in the work of the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA).
The President delivered a moving address on Sunday night, during which he informed the nation that he had officially tendered his resignation.
"I would like to state this categorically that we have never done this and never compromised the right of the National Prosecuting Authority to decide whom it should prosecute and not prosecute," he said.
"This applies equally to the painful matter relating to the court proceedings against the President of the ANC, Comrade Jacob Zuma."
The resignation by President Mbeki comes after the National Executive Committee of the African National Congress (ANC) announced on Saturday that it had decided to recall the President of the Republic, before his term of office expires next year.
President Mbeki's comments came after Pietermaritzburg High Court Judge Chris Nicholson's ruling, that suggested that Mr Mbeki, or members of his executive, might have interfered with the National Prosecuting Authority's decision to charge ANC President Jacob Zuma.
Judge Nicholson suggested that there was an inappropriately close relationship between the NPA heads and the justice ministry and that Cabinet and Mr Mbeki should take responsibility.
In his last address as the President of South Africa, Mr Mbeki said since the attainment of freedom in 1994, the government had acted consistently to respect and defend the independence of the judiciary.
He assured the nation that the successive governments since 1994 had never acted in any manner intended wilfully to violate the Constitution and the law.
" We have always sought to respect the solemn Oath of Office each one of us made in front of the Chief Justice and other judges, and have always been conscious of the fact that the legal order that governs our country was achieved through the sacrifices made by countless numbers of our people, which included death."
For this reason, he said "our successive governments have honoured all judicial decisions, including those that went against the Executive."
However he said this did not mean that the Executive did not at times have strong views which "we would have publicly pronounced upon."
"Our central approach as government has always been to defend the judiciary rather than act in a manner that would have had a negative impact on its work."
"Indeed, on the infrequent instances when we have publicly expressed views contrary to those of the judiciary, we have done so mindful of the need to protect its integrity," he said.
Mr Mbeki's resignation will be effective from the day that will be determined by the National Assembly. - BuaNews