Is Mbeki’s time up?

September 17, 2008

Thabo Mbeki, president of South Africa, speaks during a news conference at United Nations headquarters in New York

South African President Thabo Mbeki did not get to bask long in the success of securing Zimbabwe’s power-sharing deal before finding himself in the firing line again at home.

Now his most strident foes – who can be found within his ruling African National Congress – say he should be pushed from office after a judge made clear he saw political interference in the corruption trial against ANC leader and longstanding Mbeki rival Jacob Zuma.

The plan by prosecutors to challenge the court’s decision to throw out the trial looks set to further stoke political tensions. The ANC executive committee is due to meet this weekend.


Zuma has said the ANC should stay united ahead of the election in April, when Mbeki has to step down anyway, and was quoted as saying that wasting energy on trying to force the president out sooner was like “beating a dead snake”.

South Africa’s economy has grown steadily with Mbeki in power, although that growth is slowing now, but the president’s critics say only the rich have benefited and accuse him of failures over everything from power shortages to xenophobic attacks to crime to AIDS.

Until recently, Mbeki’s soft diplomatic tack on Zimbabwe had been branded a failure by many too.

Has Mbeki had a fair hearing? What will his legacy be as the man who followed Nelson Mandela to the presidency? Should he go sooner rather than later?

What do you think?


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Everyone knows that in a few months, President Mbeki will let place to Zuma even if he did not improve socio-economic conditions of south-african people. He did not bring about reforms which could enhance social life of his people. However, for the strict respect of South-African institutions, it is wise to let president Mbeki reach the end of his term. For brutal political changes, especially in Africa, could easily bring a social, economic, and psychological chaos in this fragile country. We know this country presents the similar socio-economic problems as Zimbabwe. Maybe Zuma will learn from the mistakes of Presidents Mandela and Mbeki in order to bring real reforms relating to the just distribution of the land. This is a real reform that people hope for. In a word, patience is the key to this situation.

Posted by Kiziton | Report as abusive

it is not about logic but power and control, sanity is substituted, which everway the powerful ANC leaders will sack him,it is a sad era for South Africa and her people.Democracy in South Africa is fragile and dengerous in the hands of gangstars.Time will tell.

Posted by azania | Report as abusive

mbeki will surely be missed.. He is one of the best presidents on the african continent. Far from being Mr. Perfect, but he is surely a better leader than MUSHINA WAMI

Posted by trevor | Report as abusive

President Mbeki has been a very good president for SA, and a great inspiration for the African world. The Zimbabwean situation has been resolved, due to Mbeki’s quiet diplomacy and resolve to use African solutions for African problems. Those asking for his firing are short-sighted, and do not have SA’s interest in mind. The people of South Africa elected President Mbeki to a full term in a democratic election. It was not just the NEC or the NWC of the African National Congress that elected President Mbeki. Respect the decision of the people and do not confuse them! Some people seem to forget that the majority of the people in SA respect authority and are very religious. The ANC will suffer a great deal in the voting booths in 2009 if they continue with this vengeful act. What will the act of removing President Mbeki do to the image of stability for SA, and thus the economic consequences of this destabilization? They are suppposed to be “leaders’ with foresight, not angry men fighting “their wars” that the average South African knows nothing about. The President of the ANC, Zuma, has gracefully said that energies should be focused on the elections, not internal wars within the party. He spoke about party unity, not revenge. That is leadership, and love of country. Where is the party discipline of those speaking to the media about ousting President Mbeki? There is a media spoke person within the ANC, Ms. Duarte. Why the long wait for a weekend meeting and decision, when this should be cleared up ASAP. We live in a global village, not in the corridors of Shell House. Please end this period of speculation and nervous energy towards the country. The country and the people of SA deserve clarity.

Posted by Gugu | Report as abusive

I think Mbeki’s greatest crime is that he dared make Africa strong and independent. Mbeki leaves the president at a time when Africa is very strong. He managed to get Africa invited to many great decision forums of the world.

Unfortunately, most people are afraid of a powerful Africa, especially the British and the white South Africans. Since they control the press, they have tireless tried to fight him. Most of the things he is accused of do have innocent explanations – but the press pounced on it to try and frustrate him.

I checked google news today. Very few networks are talking about the peace deal in Zimbabwe. Even fewer of them do mention Mbeki, and yet even fewer are talking about it in positive terms. Can you imagine the level of hatred?

Africa will miss Mbeki, and I think when history of Africa is written (by Africans – hint, hint!) Mbeki will regarded as the greatest African president who ever lived

Posted by Cedric Goliati | Report as abusive

Cedric Goliati, I do not think Africa will miss Mbeki. The so call deal he helped cement in Zimbabwe has set Africa decades back. We need to up hold democratic values and not pay lip services only. Only a very naive person will fail to see what Mbeki in Zimbabwe is nothing but is just that- paid lip service.

COSATU was spot on to call the deal “a dangerous spread of the Kenyan virus”.

If there is a democratic route that can be used to get Mbeki out of office, then I say he should go. If there is none, then he must be allowed to serve his full term. Still there is nothing wrong with letting him know that he is not wanted!

Posted by Wilbert Mukori | Report as abusive


Posted by Eric Mashida | Report as abusive

I think Mbeki has done good not only for SA but also the African continent. Africa is now represnted on various influential global bodies, most notably UN Sec Council. We cannot however ignore the damning charges and comments made by an independent judge about his rule and if we were to be a progressive country then we need to question those allegations. I dont think his time is up due to uncertainties around the suggested interference in the Zuma debacle and purported abuse of power. He needs to be afforded a chance to clear his name in court cause if it be true then surely it overrides all the good deeds he has done.Basically if allegations are true then he is definitely the culprit dividing the ANC and the country.

Posted by Benito | Report as abusive

Mbeki will surely be missed by all progressive Africans, he will be remembered as a true pan Afriican leader, who believed in African solutions for African problems.

Like all, he had his faults, but that should not take away from the work he has done. Mbeki is in the firing line because he dared stand up to the west and did not bend over. I think it is sad that he will succeeded by Zuma, an intellectual midget, who allows himself to be controlled by power hungry people like Vavi, Mantashe and Malema.

South Africa has a bigger stature on the world stage, thanks to Mbeki’s economic policies. I shudder to think what next for South Africa. Let history be the judge

Posted by Njokweni | Report as abusive

I can’t wait for Mbeki to go. I think he has been useless on Zimbabwe up to his present ‘deal’. Pathetic on Aids supporting his ‘beetroot’ Minister of Health who is the laughing stock of the world, useless on corruption if not involved himself in acquiring arms when the country needed to feed and educate her people, (what a criminal waste of money that was!), all while South Africa reels from gangster and criminal violence that he has done absolutely nothing about. Who cares whether he stays a few more months? The people have voted him out. The sooner he goes, the better.

Posted by Mark Sandison | Report as abusive


Posted by Tariku | Report as abusive

Nelson Mandela was a hard act to follow and Mr Mbeki could not have hoped to fill his shoes.
His quiet diplomacy, tho’admirable in some ways,has unfortunatly been too one sided and has not had the desired beneficial result for Zimbabwe.
What a pity that the close relationship he has with Mugabe could not have persuaded that man to do the honourable thing and step down, as he himself will have to do shortly.
Until Mugabe leaves the hoped for financial assistance from other countries with the Zimbabwian peoples interest at heart, should not become available. This is a hard thing to say but the people who need the help will not recieve it if this is in Mugabe’s hands.

Posted by Mrs P J-H | Report as abusive

Time is now. Its politics anyway, But either way, Its only 6-7 months of his Constitutional term/s. He’s served His country all his adult life (since at 14 years of age). He deserves all the respect he can get, despite his likely diluted legacy.

Posted by Yahaya Khan | Report as abusive


If by “African solutions for African problems” you mean the imposition of Robert Mugabe on the people of Zimbabwe; then need your head examined!

There is nothing special or uniquely African about the electorate exercising their basic right to freely elect their leaders and having their wishes respected. There is nothing new or special about some individual violently or otherwise trying to stay on against the said democratic wish of the electorate either.

Free and fair elections is the foundation of good governance, of peace, justice and prosperity. Zimbabwe is in a political and economic mess today because for years Mugabe has cheated, rigged and committed mass murder just to stay in power. The people of Zimbabwe have paid dearly for his continued undemocratic rule; surely, surely it was time this madness was stopped.

By calling the political problem an “African problem” has allowed President Thambo Mbeki to imposed Mugabe on the people of Zimbabwe, yes. But it is still wrong, just as:
1 + 1 = 2 , not 1.5, or 2.5 etc!

As a people, we in Africa are notorious for avoiding difficult issues and when we final do address them, we fudge them. Yes President Thambo Mbeki has done some good and bad things during his presidency but his greatest blunder will have to be the fudged deal to retain a ruthless dictator in power. How could he get such a basic and fundamental issue hopelessly and totally wrong!

My sincere hope is that South Africa or any other nation will never ever suffer the imposition of this really stupid “African solution” on her!

Posted by Wilbert Mukori | Report as abusive

Is Mbeki’s resignation in the interest of the people? This act is capable of brewing crisis in the democratically fragile country the end we cannot predict. Derailing economic growth and political stability will take the country back to the apartied era. Let us endure and forgive his inadequacy in that his tenure will expire in a few months. He’s one of the best from this part of the world and he has performed creditably well. Let’s embrace and give peace a chance.

Posted by Odimayo ‘Rotimi | Report as abusive

i believe the issue is beyond the shores of SA.The west were not happy with the way Mbeki handled the Zimbabwe crisis and the accusation of genocide against AlBashir of Sudan.So they tactfully make him to pay dearly for his roles in those continental issues. This is indeed a pointer to other African leaders that do not toe the line of the west as it regards their interests.As for me, Mbeki is not only my hero but an African hero desperately needed by Africa and the Africans.Stay well my hero,you will soon be sought for.I salute your courage and i salute you ! !! !!!

Posted by abdu isa | Report as abusive

Mbeki was good leader in South Africa and a good example for the people of Zimbabwe.He could have been removed from power through democratic means of the ballot box to show the majority’s will rather than the ANC’s wills of personal interests.

Posted by Sheppy | Report as abusive

Abdu Isa

Mbeki clearly needs friends right now, but trust me he is not that desperate to count the likes of you Abdu as a friend! If the ANC party Executive Body believed he had tried to use the office of the presidency for his own selfish political gains then, yes he had to be punished like anybody else. The party bosses where not the only ones who thought so, a Court Judge too did.

Mbeki has decided to go honourably, I salute him for that. Abdu, I do not think he would even consider your West conspiracy theory and thus complete tarnish his name. He has done some questionable things in his time but he is not stupid!

Posted by Wilbert Mukori | Report as abusive

I am writing from Durban, South Africa, and challenge the International Center for Transitional Justice, for real honest answers.

I am reading about your organizations involvement in the South African NPa`S application of the TRC process, and found it most interested. It also begs`s me to ask about your organizations honesty for truth and real justice.

Herewith a few open questions as a citizen in South Africa.

a. Are you supporting only investigations of old National Government operatives on ANC/SACP terrorist of old, or all that did not apply for individual amnesty, or are you choosing sides?

b. Are you also supporting the black people that were neglaced with burning tyre`s in the old townships, just because they did not follow the ANC? You know that Winnie Mandela was on TV with matches to declare and support this brutal acts.

c. Are you supporting the black activist that were killed in ANC/SACP prison camps in neighboring countries during the ban of the ANC.

d. Are you in support of the new Apartheid regimes racial discrimination policies against minorities, especially against white children that was born in a supposed new free country? If you dont support discrimination in any form, would you state so without politically correct statements so that all citizens can understand.

e. Are you aware about the thousands of white people that is currently being slaughtered on farms, just because they are white.

This is my open questions which I would also distribute to all that might need to question you guy`s integrity.

It is hoped that you would respond ASAP.

H.G. Van der Linde
P.O. Box 1518

Posted by GERT | Report as abusive