South Africa could end up as a “banana republic” if the “settling of (political) scores” becomes norm, archbishop Desmond Tutu warned of the ANC’s treatment of president Thobo Mbekis who was forced to resign this weekend.

Tutu said he was “deeply disturbed” by the axing Mbeki. “It is good old-fashioned tit for tat,” he told journalists in Cape Town. “Our country deserves better. The way of retribution leads to a banana republic.”

He said the so-called recalling of Mbeki fitted the pattern of “the settling of scores and the throwing about of weight” that had happened in the wake of the African National Congress’ national conference at Polokwane in December last year.

“We are seeing people flexing muscles and settling scores. There is very little concern about the repercussions,” said Tutu.

He said if South Africa was a democracy, there had to be certainty that those who led it were as uncorrupt as possible. “It is a court of law that will ultimately decide whether he [Jacob Zuma] is or isn’t”.

Meanwhile the minister in the presidency, Essop Pahad, said he will tender his resignation following the move to oust Mbeki

His spokesperson said Pahad’s resignation will come into effect once they accept the president’s resignation in parliament.

Samson Phakwago said: “He has to submit his resignation to the president and to Baleka [Mbete, the Speaker of parliament]. “He will resign immediately when the president’s resignation is accepted.”

Phakwago said Pahad, a long-time confidante of Mbeki, would be able to talk the media about his departure once his resignation took effect.

The national executive committee of the African National Congress announced on Saturday that Mbeki had been “recalled” from office. This comes after a high court suggestion that Mbeki may have been behind a political plot against ruling party leader Jacob Zuma.

Mbeki announced his resignation on Sunday evening. Science and Technology Minister Mosibudi Mangena has also announced his resignation, saying the decision to remove Mbeki from office had left the country in a “state of uncertainty and confusion, thereby leading to a crisis in government”.