Mbeki: VP, 11 Ministers Resign

No Comments » September 23rd, 2008 posted by // Categories: African Affairs




Mbeki: VP, 11 Ministers Resign

By Paul Ohia with agency report, 09.24.2008



Against the backdrop of the resignation of President Thabo Mbeki, the South African government was yesterday rocked by the resignations of the deputy president Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka and leading cabinet members in protest at the departure of the president.
The mass exodus took place just as the country’s National Assembly voted overwhelmingly against a motion by a political group, Freedom Front Plus (FF Plus), objecting to Mbeki’s resignation.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) said the motion by FF Plus would have compelled the African National Congress (ANC) to explain its decision to recall Mbeki and subsequently given the out-going president the opportunity to appear before the National Assembly to defend himself.
The motion, which was put to vote, recorded 299 votes to 10.
The deputy president and a staunch defender of Mbeki revealed that she was quitting as parliament formally accepted Mbekiís resignation.
Her announcement was quickly followed by the unexpected news that the long-serving Finance Minister Trevor Manuel and his deputy, Jabulani Moleketi, were also resigning.
However, his spokeswoman sought to restore calm by insisting that he and Moleketi, who is in charge of the finances for the 2010 Football World Cup in South Africa, were prepared to serve the new administration.
Manuel has been finance minister since 1996. Along with Mbeki, he is credited with promoting pro-market policies that have seen the country enjoy unprecedented growth of 5 per cent on average over nearly a decade.
The presidential spokesman, Mukoni Rachitanga, confirmed that Manuel was among 11 cabinet ministers and three deputies who resigned today.
Most of the resignations came from members of the ANC, a measure of the backlash caused by Mbeki’s ousting.
The list of ministers who have stepped down includes officials responsible for defence, intelligence, public enterprises and public services, as well as the local government minister, Sydney Mufamadi, who was the key mediator in Zimbabwe’s political crisis.
The much-criticised health minister, Manto Tshabalala-Msiming, unpopular because of her espousal of beetroot, garlic and lemon to fight Aids, was among the few ministers who indicated that they would stay.
A statement on the South African government website said the departing ministers were prepared to help in the handover and “any other assistance that might be sought from them”.
However, it is unclear how many of them want or expect to be reappointed by the new government.
Earlier, the ANC said its deputy president, Kgalema Motlanthe, would take over as the head of state until next year’s elections.
Mbeki, who was ousted by the ANC over the weekend, will formally leave his post at an official ceremony on Thursday, at which Motlanthe will be sworn in.
The ANC president, Jacob Zuma, is certain to win next spring’s elections given the party’s overwhelming majority, but is tainted by long-standing corruption allegations.
He cannot be appointed as the head of state now because he is not a member of parliament.
Jessie Duarte, an ANC spokeswoman, told South African Radio 702 that the party wanted Motlanthe to be acting president so Zuma could be elected with “a fresh mandate” next year.
Mbeki sacked Zuma as the country’s deputy president in 2005 after the latter’s financial adviser was sentenced to 15 years for corruption and fraud over soliciting bribes from a French arms company in return for Zuma shielding it from government investigation.
In 2003, Bulelani Ngcuka, a former prosecutor, said there was a case against Zuma but charges had not been pressed because it was unwinnable in political terms.
When Mbeki named Ngcuka’s wife as the successor to Zuma as the deputy president, it was regarded as a direct snub to him.
He gained revenge by ousting Mbeki as the ANC president in December and forcing him to quit as head of state at the weekend.
In a statement, Mlambo-Ngcuka cited “personal reasons” for resigning, saying it was best for the new head of state to choose his own deputy.
She also quit as a member of parliament.
“I have been privileged to be part of the economic and social transformation of this country,” she said. “I hope, in a small way, that I have contributed towards the vision of a better life for all.”


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