Cablegate: South Africa: President Thabo Mbeki's Resignation
O 221514Z SEP 08
FM AMEMBASSY PRETORIA
TO SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 5777
INFO AFRICAN UNION COLLECTIVE IMMEDIATE
SOUTHERN AF DEVELOPMENT COMMUNITY COLLECTIVE IMMEDIATE
UN SECURITY COUNCIL COLLECTIVE IMMEDIATE
UNCLAS PRETORIA 002093
E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV KDEM SF
SUBJECT: SOUTH AFRICA: PRESIDENT THABO MBEKI'S RESIGNATION
REF: A. PRETORIA 2079
B. PRETORIA 2080
1. Summary: In a September 21 televised address to the
nation, Thabo Mbeki announced his resignation as President of
South Africa. Mbeki said he respected the African National
Congress (ANC) September 20 decision to recall him (reftels).
He thanked the nation and the ANC for the opportunity to
serve since 1994 as Deputy President and then President.
Mbeki spoke of his work in pursuit of a vision of a
democratic South Africa. Mbeki pointed to South Africa's
long sustained economic growth, acknowledging that the fruits
of economic growth have yet to be shared by all. Mbeki said
work is needed to strengthen the justice system and to enlist
grassroots support in the fight against crime. Mbeki
underscored his respect for the independence of the judiciary
and took exception to inferences of judicial interference.
Mbeki also sharply denied that he used the executive and the
prosecutor to lead a political conspiracy to prosecute Jacob
Zuma. Mbeki spoke of his commitment to the regeneration of
the continent and listed his conflict resolution efforts.
Mbeki said he was convinced that the incoming Zuma
administration would build on his work to meet the challenges
facing South Africa and the continent. End summary.
3. Begin Text:
Fellow South Africans,
I have no doubt that you are aware of the announcement made
yesterday by the National Executive Committee of the ANC with
regard to the position of the President of the Republic.
Accordingly, I would like to take this opportunity to inform
the nation that today I handed a letter to the Speaker of the
National Assembly, the Honourable Baleka Mbete, to tender my
resignation from the high position of President of the
Republic of South Africa, effective from the day that will be
determined by the National Assembly.
I have been a loyal member of the African National Congress
(ANC) for 52 years. I remain a member of the ANC and
therefore respect its decisions. It is for this reason that I
have taken the decision to resign as President of the
Republic, following the decision of the National Executive
Committee of the ANC.
I would like sincerely to thank the nation and the ANC for
having given me the opportunity to serve in public office
during the last 14 years as the Deputy President and
President of South Africa.
This service has at all times been based on the vision, the
principles and values that have guided the ANC as it
prosecuted a difficult and dangerous struggle in the decades
before the attainment of our freedom in 1994.
Among other things, the vision, principles and values of the
ANC teach the cadres of this movement life-long lessons that
inform us that wherever we are and whatever we do we should
ensure that our actions contribute to the attainment of a
free and just society, the upliftment of all our people, and
the development of a South Africa that belongs to all who
live in it.
This is the vision of a South Africa that is democratic,
non-racial, non-sexist and prosperous; a country in which all
the people enjoy a better life.
Indeed the work we have done in pursuit of the vision and
principles of our liberation movement has at all times been
based on the age-old values of Ubuntu, of selflessness,
sacrifice and service in a manner that ensures that the
interests of the people take precedence over our desires as
I truly believe that the governments in which I have been
privileged to serve have acted and worked in the true spirit
Qprivileged to serve have acted and worked in the true spirit
of these important values.
Based on the values of Ubuntu, the significance of which we
learnt at the feet of such giants of our struggle as Chief
Albert Luthuli, OR Tambo, Nelson Mandela and others, we as
government, embarked, from 1994, on policies and programmes
directed at pulling the people of South Africa out of the
morass of poverty and ensuring that we build a stable,
developed and prosperous country.
Accordingly, among many things we did, we transformed our
economy, resulting in the longest sustained period of
economic growth in the history of our country; we introduced
an indigent policy that reaches large numbers of those in
need; we made the necessary advances so as to bring about a
developmental state, the better to respond to the many and
varied challenges of the transformation of our country.
This is, of course not the occasion to record the
achievements of government. An additional critical few are
however worth mentioning. They include our achievements with
regard to many of the Millennium Development Goals, the
empowerment of women, the decision to allow us to host the
2010 FIFA Soccer World Cup and our election as a
non-permanent member of the UN Security Council two years
Despite the economic advances we have made, I would be the
first to say that even as we ensured consistent economic
growth, the fruits of these positive results are still to be
fully and equitably shared among our people, hence the abject
poverty we still find coexisting side by side with
Importantly, we had an obligation to ensure that democracy
becomes the permanent feature of our lives and that all our
citizens respect the rule of law and human rights. This is
one of the cornerstones of our democracy, which we have
consistently striven to protect and never to compromise.
We have also worked continuously to combat the twin
challenges of crime and corruption, to ensure that all our
people live in conditions of safety and security. We must
admit that we are still faced with many challenges in this
Work will therefore have to continue to strengthen and
improve the functioning of our criminal justice system, to
provide the necessary resources for this purpose, to activate
the masses of our people to join the fight against crime and
corruption, and to achieve new victories in the struggle for
With regard to the latter, our successive governments from
1994 to date have worked consistently to encourage the
entrenchment in our country of a value system whose
observance would make all of us Proudly South African, a
value system informed by the precept of Ubuntu ) umuntu
ngumuntu ngabanye. Among other things this means that we must
all act in a manner that respects the dignity of every human
We have sought to advance this vision precisely because we
understood that we would fail in the struggle to achieve the
national and social cohesion that our country needs, as well
as the national unity we require to enable us to act together
to address the major challenges we face.
Fellow South Africans,
Since the attainment of our freedom in 1994, we have acted
consistently to respect and defend the independence of the
judiciary. For this reason our successive governments have
honoured all judicial decisions, including those that went
against the Executive. This did not mean that the Executive
did not at times have strong views which we would have
publicly pronounced upon. The central approach we adopted has
always been to defend the judiciary rather than act in a
manner that would have had a negative impact on its work.
Indeed, on the infrequent instances when we have publicly
expressed views contrary to those of the judiciary, we have
done so mindful of the need to protect its integrity.
Consistent with this practice, I would like to restate the
position of Cabinet on the inferences made by the Honourable
Judge Chris Nicholson that the President and Cabinet have
interfered in the work the National Prosecuting Authority
(NPA). Again I would like to state this categorically that we
have never done this, and therefore never compromised the
right of the National Prosecuting Authority to decide whom it
Qright of the National Prosecuting Authority to decide whom it
wished to prosecute or not to prosecute.
This applies equally to the painful matter relating to the
court proceedings against the President of the ANC, Comrade
More generally, I would like to assure the nation that our
successive governments since 1994 have never acted in any
manner intended wilfully to violate the Constitution and the
law. We have always sought to respect the solemn Oath of
Office each one of us made in front of the Chief Justice and
other judges, and have always been conscious of the fact that
the legal order that governs our country was achieved through
the sacrifices made by countless numbers of our people, which
In this context it is most unfortunate that gratuitous
suggestions have been made seeking to impugn the integrity of
those of us who have been privileged to serve in our
country,s National Executive.
Again, as you know, we have often pointed to the fact that
our liberation movement has always been pan-African in its
outlook and therefore that we have an obligation to
contribute to the renaissance of the African continent.
All of us are aware of the huge and daunting challenges that
face our continent. In the short years since our freedom, as
South Africans we have done what we could to make our humble
contribution to the regeneration of our continent.
We have devoted time and resources to the task of achieving
the Renaissance of Africa because this is what has informed
generations of our liberators, even before the ANC was formed
in 1912. We have done this fully understanding that our
country shares a common destiny with the rest of our
I therefore thank the many dedicated compatriots ) men and
women ) who have made it possible for us to contribute to
the resolution of conflicts and the strengthening of
democracy in a number of countries including the Kingdom of
Lesotho, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Burundi, Cte
d,Ivoire, Comoros, Zimbabwe, Sudan and elsewhere. We have
also done this work conscious of our responsibilities as a
State Member of both SADC and the African Union.
I would like to thank my colleagues, the many Heads of State
and Government on the African continent whose abiding vision
is that Africa must be free; that all our countries,
individually and collectively should become democratic,
developed and prosperous, and that Africa must unite. These
African patriots know as I do that Africa and Africans will
not and must not be the wretched of the earth in perpetuity.
Similarly we have worked to contribute to the achievement of
the aspirations of the countries and peoples of the South,
conscious of the need for us to act in solidarity and in
unity with the billions with whom we share the common
challenge to defeat poverty and underdevelopment.
Accordingly, I depart the Office of President of South Africa
knowing that this country has many men and women who have
dedicated their lives to ensure that South Africa, Africa and
the countries of the South will, in time, manage to ensure a
better world for all of humanity.
I depart this Office conscious that the sterling work done by
the Presidency, the Ministries and departments, the provinces
and local government structures will continue, driven by the
determination to achieve the goal of a better life for all.
I am convinced that the incoming administration will better
the work done during the past 14-and-half years so that
poverty, underdevelopment, unemployment, illiteracy,
challenges of health, crime and corruption will cease to
define the lives of many of our people.
I have received many messages from South Africans, from all
walks of life, through e-mails, telephonically and through
cell phone text messages as well as those conveyed through my
colleagues. I thank all of you, fellow South Africans, for
To everyone, and responding to these messages, I would like
to say that gloom and despondency have never defeated
adversity. Trying times need courage and resilience. Our
strength as a people is not tested during the best of times.
As we said before, we should never become despondent because
QAs we said before, we should never become despondent because
the weather is bad nor should we turn triumphalist because
the sun shines.
For South Africa to succeed there is more work to be done and
I trust that we will continue to strive to act in unity to
accelerate the advance towards the achievement of our shared
In this regard, it may be worth repeating what I said during
the inauguration of the President of the Republic in 1999.
Using the metaphor of the Comrades Marathon, I said then
"Those who complete the course will do so only because they
do not, as fatigue sets in, convince themselves that the road
ahead is still too long, the inclines too steep, the
loneliness impossible to bear and the prize itself of
Once more, I thank you most sincerely for affording me the
opportunity to serve you and to serve the people of Africa.
Thank you, ngiyathokoza, ke ya lebogang, ndo livhuwa,
ndiyabulela, ndza khensa, baie dankie, ngiyabonga.
Issued by: The Presidency
21 September 2008
4. End Text.