22 September 2008
Thabo Mbeki announced on Sunday night that he had formally resigned as President of South Africa, effective from a day to be determined by Parliament.
In a national televised address, Mbeki told the nation that he had decided to resign after he was asked to do so by the national executive committee of the ruling African National Congress (ANC).
“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,” Mbeki said.
Mbeki will remain in office until the National Assembly accepts his resignation and determines his date of departure.
Mbeki was due to stand down after 10 years as President in 2009, but the ANC’s decision-making body on Saturday recalled him as President of the country.
The ANC is expected to announce its preferred candidate for Acting President within the next few days. The Acting President is then expected to convene Cabinet in terms of the Constitution.
In a moving speech, Mbeki thanked 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.”
“[T]he 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 individuals,” Mbeki said.
He likened public office to a marathon of long roads, steep hills, loneliness and uncertain rewards at the end, and urged South Africans to cherish the freedoms gained by many years of anti-apartheid struggle.
“We should never be despondent if the weather is bad, nor should we turn triumphant because the sun shines,” he said.
Mbeki, who has been President since he succeeded Nelson Mandela in 1999, was popular among investors, who praised his pro-business policies.
He traced the achievements of his office, including transforming the economy, “resulting in the longest period of sustained economic growth in the history of our country,” spurring social progress and winning the right to host the 2010 World Cup.
But, he said, many challenges still remained.
“Despite the economic advances we have made, I would be first to say that … the fruits of these positive results are still not fully and equally shared among our people, hence abject poverty coexisting side by side with extraordinary opulence.”
He said he was convinced that the incoming administration would better the work done during the past 14-and-half years so that poverty, underdevelopment, unemployment, illiteracy, and the challenges of health, crime and corruption will cease to define the lives of many South Africans.