22 September 2008
President Thabo Mbeki has thanked South Africans for giving him the opportunity to serve them over the past 14 years, first as Deputy President and then as President of the country.
Mbeki formally resigned as President on Sunday after being asked to do so by the national executive committee of the ruling African National Congress (ANC).
In a televised address to the nation on Sunday night, Mbeki said he departed the office knowing that South Africa had many men and women who had dedicated their lives to ensuring that the country, Africa and the countries of the south would, in time, create a better world for all of humanity.
Mbeki said goodbye to the nation in all 11 official languages, and also offered hope for the future.
“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,” Mbeki said.
“We should never become despondent because the weather is bad, nor should we turn triumphalist because the sun shines.”
Mbeki 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, challenges of health, crime and corruption would cease to define the lives of many South Africans.
However, he said that for South Africa to succeed there was more work that needed to be done.
“I trust that we will continue to strive to act in unity to accelerate the advance towards the achievement of our shared national goals.
“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.
Since 1994, when he became Deputy President under Nelson Mandela, Mbeki’s office has embarked on policies and programmes directed at pulling the people of South Africa out of the morass of poverty and ensuring that the country became a stable, developed and prosperous one.
Among many things the Mbeki government achieved was the transformation of the economy, resulting in the longest sustained period of economic growth in the history of the 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,” Mbeki said.
Among other achievements attained during his term in office, Mbeki recalled the empowerment of women, the decision to allow the country to host the 2010 Fifa World Cup, and South Africa’s election as a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council two years ago.
“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 regard,” he said.
Work, he said, would therefore have to continue to strengthen and improve the functioning of the criminal justice system; to provide the necessary resources for this purpose; to activate the masses of people to join the fight against crime and corruption; and to achieve new victories in the struggle for moral regeneration.
During his term, Mbeki also contributed 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, Cote d’Ivoire, Comoros, Zimbabwe and Sudan.
“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.”