Monday, September 22, 2008

ANC Looks to Kgalema Motlanthe to Lead the Republic of South Africa

ANC looks to Motlanthe to lead South Africa


The ruling African National Congress (ANC) will name party deputy head Kgalema Motlanthe as South Africa's caretaker leader on Monday to replace President Thabo Mbeki, ANC members of Parliament said.

Motlanthe, who already sits in the Cabinet, was named to take over from Mbeki until elections -- due in about April next year -- during a meeting of the ANC's parliamentary caucus, ANC MPs told Reuters on condition of anonymity.

Motlanthe is a left-leaning intellectual who has never sought the limelight. Motlanthe won praise at the ANC's national conference in Polokwane for calling ill-disciplined, younger members of the party to order.

When asked if it was true that Motlanthe was the candidate named to replace Mbeki, an ANC MP said "Yes, it is."

"Motlanthe will be the president, not interim, he will be the president of the republic until the election," spokesman for the ANC parliamentary caucus KK Khumalo said after a meeting between the party and lawmakers.

Motlanthe's nomination comes a day after President Thabo Mbeki announced his resignation in a live broadcast, after calls by his party for him to step down seven months before the end of his second term.

Motlanthe was elected party deputy president at a crunch ANC conference in December last year, which was when Jacob Zuma toppled Mbeki from his position as party chief.

According to the South African Constitution, Parliament elects the president from among its members, dominated by the ANC since 1994.

"In terms of the process we are going to follow Mr Motlanthe is going to, in the days running up to the election ... be president of the country," said Phosa.

Motlanthe was only recently appointed to Parliament as minister in the presidency charged with smoothing the transition from one administration to the next.

Vote in coming days

ANC spokesperson Khotso Khumalo said Parliament will vote on the president in the next few days.

"The political leadership is addressing the matter and getting hold of the chief justice and from then on, it will be nomination and voting, between today [Monday] and Thursday," Khumalo said.

ANC leader Jacob Zuma was due to address a news conference in Johannesburg at 12pm.

Parliament convenes at 2pm and Motlanthe's appointment may be put to a snap vote on Monday, almost certain to be officially approved by the ANC-dominated Assembly.

Mbeki, who presided over South Africa's longest period of economic growth, said in a televised address on Sunday he had tendered his resignation after the ANC asked him to quit before the end of his term next year.

The ANC made its request eight days after a judge threw out corruption charges against party leader Jacob Zuma, suggesting there was high-level political meddling in the case.

News of Mbeki's departure helped push South Africa's rand weaker in overnight trading, although traders said the political moves would not affect the currency much in the short term.

Analysts say the currency, which weakened by as much as 1,7 %, will remain vulnerable in the transition period and that any volatile changeover will have a negative impact.

"While investors may welcome greater certainty in terms of the future political outlook, a more volatile political transition is likely to cost the country dearly," said Razia Khan, Standard Chartered regional head of research for Africa.

Mbeki, who took over from Nelson Mandela as president in 1999, said on Sunday he remained a loyal ANC member and respected the party's decision but repeated that he did not influence the prosecution in the case of Zuma, his rival.

Zuma, who holds no government post, is all but certain to become head of state in an election in 2009. -- Reuters

Source: Mail & Guardian Online
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Mbeki ouster eases investor jitters, but clouds remain

Mon 22 Sep 2008, 12:03 GMT
By Rebecca Harrison

JOHANNESBURG, Sept 22 (Reuters) - The resignation of President Thabo Mbeki brings some clarity for investors after months of political turmoil in South Africa, but disquiet persists about a volatile transition or a swing to the left.

In the biggest political upheaval since the end of apartheid, Mbeki, who embraced pro-business policies and presided over South Africa's longest period of economic growth, said on Sunday he had resigned after the ruling ANC asked him to quit before his term ends next year.

Investor confidence in Africa's biggest economy has been damaged by a bitter rift in the ANC between supporters of Mbeki and those of left-leaning Jacob Zuma, who ousted Mbeki as party leader and will likely become president after 2009 elections.

While the rand weakened on Monday, equities rallied and analysts said Mbeki's departure would boost investor sentiment in the short term by easing uncertainty, especially give his respected finance minister, Trevor Manuel, would stay.

"The relative continuity plus the tenor of Mbeki's resignation and the fact he resigned at all can be seen as an affirmation of South Africa's democracy," said Nic Borain, an independent analyst who advises several international banks.

"The certainty is a plus for investors -- the conflict seems to be over."

Mbeki's sudden departure arguably averts a more drawn-out political crisis, and some analysts applauded the peaceful democratic transition on a continent where leaders often cling to power and tussles over succession can unleash violence.

Eurasia Group analyst Mike Davies said Mbeki's resignation ended the era of "two centres of power" -- the presidency and the ANC -- and allowed the ANC, which dominates the political landscape, to start planning for next year's elections.


But big questions remain about how far the new-look ANC -- influenced by its trade union and Communist allies -- will veer from Mbeki's pro-business policies and about how it will manage the transition.

Investors want a swift, transparent and orderly change in guard and any signs of chaos could hit sentiment and the rand, especially given the country is already facing a brain drain and debilitating power crunch that has hit business confidence.

"While investors may welcome greater certainty in terms of the future political outlook, a more volatile political transition is likely to cost the country dearly," Razia Khan, regional head of research for Africa at Standard Chartered Bank, wrote in a note.

ANC sources said the party would appoint its deputy president Kgalema Mothlanthe, a left-leaning Zuma loyalist, to replace Mbeki until elections.

But while Zuma said on Monday that Mothlanthe, viewed as a solid choice who avoids wild rhetoric, would make a good president if chosen, he did not name him outright.

Zuma sought on Monday to assure investors South Africa's economic policies would remain "stable, progressive and unchanged" but did not give specifics. JP Morgan said in a note the change in leadership did not change its outlook for monetary policy but did raise the risk of "fiscal slippage".

Borain predicted "more adventurous" policy-making from the ANC's new leaders, who argue Mbeki's government has failed to translate economic growth into a better life for the poor, but said they would soon realise the value of placating investors.

"I would expect more of a Lula than a Chavez," he said, referring to the leftist Brazilian president who proved much less radical than his more fiery Venezualan counterpart.

Investors will also be watching closely to see whether Zuma, Mothlanthe and their allies hold onto tested Mbeki ministers and administrators or opt for sweeping changes on political grounds.

"An important test over the coming days will be the ability to keep cabinet ministers in place, ensuring not only policy continuity but service delivery -- a continued, effective government," said Razia Khan, regional head of research Africa at Standard Chartered.

There was also concern about a backlash from the Mbeki camp, after the Sunday Times reported some of his supporters may split from the ANC and contest elections as a breakaway party, leaving the ruling party to more radical elements. However that could take time, and many analysts doubt it will happen at all.

Ironically, while the global financial crisis has broadly increased risk aversion, it could work in South Africa's favour, simply because investors are facing far bigger challenges elsewhere.

"There are bigger fish in the sea than our Zuma thing," said Paul Peter, a currency trader at ABN Amro in Johannesburg. "Every international investor knew that this would play out, it has just been fast forwarded."

(Additional reporting by Gordon Bell)

South Africa's ANC picks successor to Mbeki

(AFP) - - South Africa's ruling ANC on Monday named its deputy president Kgalema Motlanthe as head of state after Thabo Mbeki bowed to pressure and announced his resignation, a spokesman told AFP.

Motlanthe is to serve as head of state until elections are held in seven months' time.

"Motlanthe will be the president, not interim, he will be the president of the republic until the election," spokesman for the ANC parliamentary caucus KK Khumalo said after a meeting between the party and lawmakers.

Mbeki announced in a live television address Sunday that he had tendered his resignation to speaker of parliament Baleka Mbete after his party called for him to step down in the interests of African National Congress unity.

He said he had tendered his resignation "effective from a day that will be determined by the national assembly."

Mbeki, 66, who succeeded Nelson Mandela as president in June 1999, has become the country's first democratically-elected president to be forced out of office before the end of his term.

South African newspapers saluted the outgoing president's dignified exit -- but had harsher words for the party that had sacrificed him.

"A defiant President Mbeki has bowed down from office, proclaiming his innocence while pledging loyaty to the organisation that unceremoniously ousted him as head of state," the Star newspaper reported.

"The real cause for concern this morning, as we continue to digest these big events, is that the ANC has put the party before the people on this account, in a move that will have serious and long term consequences for us all".

Phosa said the ANC wanted the current cabinet to stay in place, after speculation Mbeki loyalists may follow him in tendering their resignation.

"No we want them to stay. We are very happy if they stay and we do these things together. We really want stability and we want them to stay."

Phosa said the call for Mbeki to resign was not an act of retribution, but a bid to unite the party behind one leader ahead of polls next year.

"We have done an assessment of what the problems are," said Mathews Phosa.

"It is internal stability and what will take us forward to the elections with the whole of the ANC behind one leader (party president Jacob) Zuma," he added.

The decision came after a week of pressure following a September 12 court ruling that threw out a corruption case against Mbeki's political rival Jacob Zuma, and a judge hinted that Mbeki's government had interfered in the decision to prosecute the ANC chief.

The court ruling that all but sealed Mbeki's fate also cleared Zuma of corruption charges, paving the way for his bid to become South Africa's president in 2009.

Under the South African constitution, the president is appointed by parliament, which has been dominated by the ANC since the end of apartheid and the start of majority rule in May 1994.

Mbeki's term had been due to expire in mid-2009, and he has been largely seen as a lame duck president since losing the leadership of his party to Zuma at a key ANC conference in December.

Thabo Mbeki: Born into struggle

Thabo Mbeki, who took up an almost impossible challenge in 1999 to fill the shoes of the charismatic Nelson Mandela after he stepped down as South Africa's president, has confirmed he will quit the post following an order from the ANC.

His recent troubles stem from a bitter fallout with another charismatic politician - his former political ally Jacob Zuma, who is favourite to succeed him as president.

Mr Zuma was fired as deputy president three years ago after his financial adviser was found guilty of soliciting a bribe on his behalf, but he has gone on to become leader of the ruling African National Congress (ANC) and enjoys huge support in the party.

Mr Mbeki's political isolation became more pronounced after a high court judge ruled this month that corruption charges against Mr Zuma were politically motivated.

His predicament is all the more surprising given his reputation as a ruthless political operator - a popular characterisation he has done little to dispel throughout his presidency.

By most accounts, as deputy president, Mr Mbeki was effectively in charge of the country, as Mr Mandela applied himself to matters of diplomacy and post-apartheid reconciliation, and left the less glamorous business work to his number two.

Mark Gevisser, author of a recent biography of Mr Mbeki, set out the challenge that the new president faced.

"What Mbeki did was that he tried to find a way of establishing loyalty to him in a post-Mandela environment, where there was a natural and obvious loyalty to a patriarch," Mr Gevisser told the BBC.

"And the way he did it, was by saying: 'If they don't love me the way love Mandela, at the very least they need to respect me and perhaps even fear me'".

"He worked hard to make sure that people who might be his opponents were isolated - and those people did eventually leave the executive or the party".

Aids dissident

An earlier biography by William Mervyn Gumede, with a political rather than a personal focus, charts how Mr Mbeki manoeuvred from being an outside candidate to succeed Mr Mandela, to becoming the sure successor by 1999.

But with less than a year to go till his second and final presidential term ends, Mr Mbeki is no longer able to arrange things to his liking.

Given his troubles at home, it has been suggested he was determined to get Zimbabwe's political rivals to sign a power-sharing deal this month as part of his legacy.

He trumpeted the agreement as a success of his policy of quiet diplomacy - a policy for which he has been lambasted in the foreign and domestic media.

Mr Mbeki seems concerned with defending Africa against Western interests: Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe puts himself forward as one of the grand old men of African liberation and casts his opponents as the tools of British imperialism.

This world view reflects a personal history inseparable from the history of South Africa's struggle against white domination.

Domestically, his government's handling of the HIV/Aids crisis has also weakened his hand.

For years, as Aids deaths mounted in South Africa, Mr Mbeki questioned scientific orthodoxy about the links between HIV and Aids.

He personally endorsed the work of dissident researchers, while his government rejected the use of anti-retroviral (ARV) drugs on the grounds that they were toxic.

A theme of African self-reliance runs through Mr Mbeki's statements on Aids - that anti-Aids campaigns were a foreign vehicle to control African sexuality, and that ARV drugs were of use mostly to increase the profits of Western pharmaceutical companies.

Following considerable pressure from activists, ARV drugs have been distributed in government clinics since 2004.

But Mr Gevisser is convinced that Mr Mbeki's attitude towards Aids remains unchanged, after the president sent a messenger to the author's home in 2007 with a paper setting out Mr Mbeki's current views.

"There is no question as to the message Thabo Mbeki was delivering to me along with this document: he was now, as he had been since 1999, an Aids dissident," Mr Gevisser writes.


Thabo Mvuyelwa Mbeki was born in 1942 in Idutywa in the Eastern Cape.

His father was a leading communist Govan Mbeki - a teacher, writer and newspaper publisher - and Epainette, also a teacher who ran a shop to feed the four children.

Mbeki grew up in rural Eastern Cape and his readings as a youngster revolved around the plight of the poor.

"I was born into the struggle," he has said.

After several schools and skirmishes with authorities in the Eastern Cape, he was sent to Johannesburg where he came under the guidance of Walter Sisulu, Mr Mandela's best friend and mentor.

When his father was arrested with Mr Mandela, he went to Sussex University in the UK, where he took a Masters degree and left to work in the ANC's London office.

Then followed spells in the Soviet Union for military training; Zambia, Botswana, Swaziland and Nigeria.

From 1978 onwards he rose in the ANC under the direct tutelage of Oliver Tambo, the organisation's president.

He was the organisation's chief spokesman, its head of international affairs and in the late 1980s was one of the five key ANC leaders who negotiated a settlement with the apartheid government.

The years of exile left numerous scars on Mr Mbeki and his family.

He lost a brother, Jama, who disappeared in exile.

Mr Mbeki's son - he made a young woman pregnant while in his teens - died while trying to follow his father out of South Africa.


The story is often told how Mr Mbeki only shook his father's hand when he met him for the first time after 28 years in 1989.

They apparently called each other "comrade".

In the late 1980s, with the end of apartheid in sight, Mr Mbeki played a key role in discussions between the exiled ANC and white political and business leaders in South Africa.

This bridge-building role continued after he returned to South Africa, and he can take much of the credit for reassuring South African and international business interests, and foreign governments, that a post-apartheid South Africa would be a safe place for their money.

Mr Mbeki has managed to swing important international leaders behind his Africa rejuvenation plan, the New Partnership for Africa's Development (Nepad).

Perhaps his biggest policy success has been South Africa's rapid economic growth since the end of apartheid and the rise of a black middle class - but to the anger of many, wealth is more unevenly distributed than ever before.

He has failed to convince the trade unions and the poorest South Africans that the government has acted in their interest since the end of apartheid.

And it was this that provided the space for Mr Zuma to mobilise a powerful constituency and end Mr Mbeki's leadership of the party - in which he has spent so much of his life - and his presidency.

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2008/09/19 17:07:30 GMT

Zuma ally 'to be S Africa leader'

South Africa's ruling African National Congress (ANC) has chosen a caretaker president to replace Thabo Mbeki.

Sources within the party have named deputy leader Kgalema Motlanthe, an ally of party leader Jacob Zuma.

Mr Zuma said on Monday the decision would only be formally announced when parliament meets - on Thursday - to vote on the appointment.

Thabo Mbeki resigned on Sunday over claims of political interference in a corruption case against Mr Zuma.

He denies the allegations but said he was stepping down at the request of the ANC in the interests of party unity.

In his first comments on the case, Mr Zuma said it was one of the most difficult decisions in the ANC's history.

But Archbishop Desmond Tutu said he was "deeply disturbed" by Mr Mbeki's forced resignation, saying the interests of the ANC had been put before those of the nation.

"Our country deserves better. The way of retribution leads to a banana republic," he said.
1949: Born
1967: Detained for 11 months
1977: Sentenced to 10 years on Robben Island
1987: Joined National Union of Mineworkers, rising to become its secretary-general
1997: Elected ANC secretary-general
2007: Elected ANC's deputy president
2008: Becomes an MP and minister without portfolio
Mr Zuma, however, promised a smooth transition.

"This is not a change of party but only leadership in government," he told reporters.

"Our economic policies will remain stable, progressive and unchanged."

Mr Mbeki has said he will remain in office until his successor is chosen.

The ANC chief whip on Monday moved a motion for Mr Mbeki's resignation to take effect on Thursday.

The new president will hold the post until elections are held in early 2009, which Mr Zuma is widely expected to win.

Mr Zuma said the candidate would be named in parliament "at an appropriate moment".

However, he said of Mr Motlanthe - the man heavily tipped for the post - "I am confident that if given that responsibility he will be equal to the task".

If confirmed, it would be a meteoric rise for Mr Motlanthe, who only became an MP in May.

However he has impeccable ANC credentials, the BBC's Jonah Fisher in Johannesburg says.

Mr Motlanthe spent much of the 1980s jailed on Robben Island along with Nelson Mandela.

He was made ANC secretary general in 1997 and became the party's number two in December, at the same time as Jacob Zuma was elected party leader.

'Political solution'

ANC General Secretary Gwede Mantashe said the decision to ask for Mr Mbeki's resignation was taken to avoid divisions in the party.

Mr Zuma, he said, would not take over immediately but would wait for general elections when, if voted in, he would be "a people's president".

Mbeki announces his resignation

Mr Mantashe insisted the resignation call was not a punishment for Mr Mbeki and that the president would be given the chance to continue his role as mediator in Zimbabwe.

However, the main opposition party, the Democratic Alliance, said Mr Zuma had "got what he wanted" from Mr Mbeki's resignation.

Party leader Helen Zille told the BBC's Network Africa programme that Mr Zuma wanted "a political solution to his legal problems".

Praising Mr Mbeki as a strategic thinker and peacemaker, she described Mr Zuma as "the leader of a rabble out to grab the spoils of state for their own interests".

Mr Mbeki's resignation came days after a high court judge suggested he might have interfered in a corruption case against Mr Zuma.

In his television address, Mr Mbeki made an impassioned defence of his position.

Neither he nor his cabinet had made any attempt to meddle with the judicial process, he said, and he dismissed any suggestion he had been trying to shape the judgement for his own political ends.

Mr Mbeki fired Mr Zuma as deputy president in 2005 after his financial adviser was found guilty of soliciting a bribe on his behalf.

But Mr Zuma returned to the political stage to topple his rival as ANC leader in bitterly contested elections last year.

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2008/09/22 13:57:45 GMT

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