ANC planning to fire Thabo Mbeki before the end of his mandate

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South Africa’s ruling African National Congress (ANC) deputy president Kgalema Motlanthe is set to be deployed to the cabinet within days — a move that will allow him to “shadow” President Thabo Mbeki as he serves out the remainder of his term in office, which ends next year.

from our correspondent in Harare

Reports from South Africa say, while it is unclear what Motlanthe’s cabinet title will be, it is believed that he would be based in the Presidency and work from the Union Buildings.

“He will not be a junior cabinet appointment, he will be like a minister of
state in the Presidency, who will have an overarching look at government as a whole,” a senior member of the ANC’s national executive committee (NEC) is quoted as saying. Motlanthe’s deployment is part of the new ANC leadership’s “preparations to govern”.

“The main focus is to ensure a proper transfer and corporate governance memory,”

Protocol meetings between the Union Buildings and Luthuli House, for the purpose of reaching consensus on Motlanthe’s move to the cabinet are said to be an advanced stage.

“The ANC’s list of MPs to Parliament is going to be redone and Kgalema is going to be accommodated by the end of this window period. A lot can happen in 48 hours,”

Currently, ANC has three vacant seats in Parliament and the window period for parties to adjust their lists ends tomorrow. “The consensus is that Kgalema will be dealing with the domestic issues while Mbeki concentrates on foreign policy questions. In reality, Kgalema would be the ‘shadow’ president,” further explained the ANC member.

Motlanthe’s move was unlikely to signal a wider cabinet reshuffle, which was expected when many of the current cabinet ministers failed to secure election to the party’s NEC at the ANC’s conference last December. Motlanthe’s move to the government will be the first deployment of one of the ANC’s top six officials since Jacob Zuma took over as party president from Mbeki in December.

If Zuma goes down in the corruption trial he seems likely to have to face, or if the ANC decides it is unwise to have a leader who spends most of his time in court – or prison – Motlanthe looks like the most likely man to be South Africa’s next president.

Presidential spokesman Mukoni Ratshitanga said he was unable to comment because he had not been “advised” on the issue, reports say. ANC secretary-general Gwede Mantashe said Motlanthe’s eventual deployment was in line with the ANC’s decision to develop synergy between the departing and incoming administrations.

However, it is rumored that both Mbeki and Motlanthe were less than enthusiastic about the move, but the ANC’s word on the matter was final. “Kgalema is not the deputy president of himself, he is the deputy president of the ANC, and as such he will go where the organisation sends him,” another NEC member is quoted as saying.

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