September 23, 2008

South Africa in Waiting for Their Temporary Leader

By Claire Soares

The ANC leader Jacob Zuma has sought to reassure South Africans there would be a smooth transition of power following the ousting of President Thabo Mbeki, but left them waiting to hear who will act as caretaker-president until next year's elections.

Making his first public appearance since the weekend's dramatic events, Mr Zuma said the decision to recall the sitting president had been "difficult and painful" but stressed: "It had to be taken in the interests of making the country move forward."

For the moment, however, South Africa is treading water. The ANC had been expected to name Mr Mbeki's replacement yesterday, but the announcement has been delayed until Thursday. Parliamentary sources in Cape Town said the baton would pass to the party's number two Kgalema Motlanthe, and not the speaker of parliament, Baleka Mbete, as had been widely reported. But there was no confirmation from Zuma.

"We have in cabinet many ministers, including Kgalema Motlanthe, I'm convinced would be equal to the task," was all Mr Zuma would say.

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