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On This Day: The Birthday of Former South African President, Thabo Mbeki

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On this day: in history (1942), Thabo Mbeki was born. He is a South African politician who served as the second president of South Africa (1999 -2008).

Mbeki was early exposed to politics by his father, a longtime leader in the Eastern Cape African National Congress (ANC). The younger Mbeki attended schools in Transkei, including the well-known Lovedale secondary school in Alice, and in 1956 joined the ANC Youth League. Three years later he led a student strike at Lovedale that resulted in his expulsion. Mbeki continued his studies at home and remained active in the ANC after it was banned in South Africa in 1960. In 1962 he left South Africa illegally and enrolled at the University of Sussex in Brighton, England, from which he graduated with an M.A. in economics in 1966.

In 1994 Mbeki was appointed South Africa’s deputy president by President Mandela. Mandela retired from politics in 1999, and, after the ANC’s victory in nationwide elections in June, Mbeki, who had become head of the ANC in 1997, was named president.

Mbeki secured a second term as president of the ANC in 2002.In 2007 he lost his bid for a third term as head of the ANC to Jacob Zuma in what was one of the most contentious leadership battles in the party’s history. Amid charges of corruption, Zuma had been dismissed by Mbeki from his position as deputy president of the country in 2005.

Following an allegation by a High Court judge that there had been political interference in Zuma’s prosecution on corruption charges, Mbeki was in 2008 asked by the ANC to resign from the South African presidency, which he agreed to do once the relevant constitutional requirements had been fulfilled. On September 25, he was succeeded by Kgalema Motlanthe, who was selected by the National Assembly to serve as interim president until elections could be held in 2009.

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Created by Okey Obiabunmo

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