ANC names Motlanthe as president

The African National Congress on Monday named its deputy president Kgalema Motlanthe as head of state until elections are held in seven months’ time, a spokesperson said.

“Motlanthe will be the president, not interim, he will be the president of the republic until the election,” spokesperson for the ANC parliamentary caucus KK Khumalo said after a meeting between the party and lawmakers.

Motlanthe’s nomination comes a day after President Thabo Mbeki announced his resignation in a live broadcast, after calls by his party for him to step down seven months before the end of his second term.

Motlanthe was elected party deputy president at a crunch ANC conference in December last year, which was when Jacob Zuma toppled Mbeki from his position as party chief.

According to the South African Constitution, Parliament elects the president from among its members, dominated by the ANC since 1994.

Motlanthe was only recently appointed to Parliament as minister in the presidency charged with smoothing the transition from one administration to the next.

Mbeki was called to resign after suggestions by a judge that his government had interfered in a corruption prosecution against his arch rival Zuma, which was thrown out of court over a week ago.

Mbeki denied any such interference in a broadcast to the nation on Sunday.

Never sought limelight
Motlanthe is a left-leaning intellectual who has never sought the limelight.

Born in 1949, Motlanthe is the youngest of thirteen children, and he was influenced by the revolutionary ideologies of the Black Consciousness Movement of Steve Biko. He was detained by the apartheid government in 1977 at 28, the year after the 1976 Soweto uprising.

In 1967 he was detained for 11 months for pursuing the aims of the ANC. He was later sentenced to 10 years imprisonment on Robben Island.
Shortly after his release he was elected secretary general of the National Union of Mineworkers. In 1997 when politician-businessman Cyril Ramaphosa retired from politics, Kgalema was elected secretary general of the ANC.

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