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By unknown | Sep 25, 2008 | COMMENTS [ 0 ]

The official announcement on Sunday by President Thabo Mbeki that he had accepted the ANC's call for him to resign triggered a series of events that have left the country in a state of political flux.

The official announcement on Sunday by President Thabo Mbeki that he had accepted the ANC's call for him to resign triggered a series of events that have left the country in a state of political flux.

Ido Lekota looks at the series of events and their ramifications.


lPresident Thabo Mbeki officially announces his resignation.

He reiterates the position taken by his cabinet rejecting comments by Pietermaritzburg high court Judge Chris Nicholson, inferring there was political interference in the national prosecuting authority (NPA) decision to charge ANC president Jacob Zuma with corruption.


lANC president Jacob Zuma announces that parliament will soon elect a new president.

The name of ANC deputy president Kgalema Motlanthe - who is leader of government business in parliament - comes up as a possible candidate.

Zuma describes him as "a capable cadre who, if nominated, will be up to the task".

lMbeki lodges papers with the constitutional court challenging some of Nicholson's findings.

lScience and Technology Minister Mosibudi Mangena, a member of Azapo, announces his resignation.


lConfusion reigns following news from the Presidency that 13 cabinet members, including ministers and deputy ministers, have resigned.

Among those who have is Deputy President Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka and Finance Minister Trevor Manuel.

The news of Manuel's resignation leads to the rand losing 2,5 percent of its value.

lManuel later releases a statement saying he resigned because he was appointed by Mbeki but was available to serve under the new president.

lThe ANC calls a press conference to confirm that only six of the 13 will go because they are not willing to serve under the new president.

The six are Mlambo-Ngcuka, Defence Minister Mosiuoa Lekota; Minister in the Presidency Essop Pahad; Intelligence Minister Ronnie Kasrils; Public Enterprises Minister Alec Erwin and Minister for Provincial and Local Government Sidney Mufamadi; and Deputy Correctional Services Minister Mluleki George.

l ANC general secretary Gwede Mantashe explains that the rest of the ministers will remain in their posts - except for Mangena who has been withdrawn by his party.

lThe ANC also confirms that Kgalema Motlanthe is their candidate for the president's job and will be elected in parliament today.

The party also announces that it will replace the six cabinet members who have resigned.

The ministers who are said to be staying to serve under Motlanthe include Manuel; his deputy Jabu Moleketi; Public Service and Administration Minister Geraldine Fraser-Moleketi; Correctional Services Minister Ngconde Balfour and his deputy Loretta Jacobs; Public Works Minister Thoko Didiza; Deputy Foreign Affairs Minister Aziz Pahad.

The ANC has explained its decision to recall Mbeki as a way of dealing with fissures that appeared within the party before and after the Polokwane conference.

The party's argument is that Mbeki's continued presence as president of the country could only perpetuate these fissures - a situation that is untenable in view of the coming election.

"We want to go to the election as a united party that has dealt with its internal divisions and Mbeki is seen as an obstacle in that regard," a senior national executive committee member explained.

But the consequences of the decision have led to many commentators questioning the wisdom of such a step.

Constitutional law expert Shadrack Gutto has described the decision as "democratic but unwise".

Gutto argues that while the ANC wanted to maintain continuity by calling on all the ministers to stay, such a call undermines the power of the new president to appoint his own cabinet.

Gutto says while presidents are party deployees who have to execute the decisions and policies of the party, the Constitution of the country gives them the mandate to appoint ministers they believe will be effective and serve the incumbent with loyalty.

"As it is the new president will be saddled with cabinet ministers appointed by someone else who may or may not be effective when it comes to his plans for delivery."

The whole scenario just shows the ineffectiveness of having an interim president, Gutto argues.

Meanwhile, concerns have also been raised about whether having Motlanthe as president of the country, while he is not the president of the ANC, would not create "the much maligned two centres of power".

According to political analyst Steve Friedman the situation is further compounded by the fact that Motlanthe had previously been projected as having presidential ambitions.

Motlanthe is set to be elected as the new president of the country today following the resignation of President Thabo Mbeki. National Assembly speaker Baleka Mbete is expected to be elected as Motlanthe's deputy.

Motlanthe is then expected to appoint his new cabinet. The cabinet is expected to include the ministers who did not tender their resignation.


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