Cabinet exodus follows Mbeki

One third of South Africa's ANC cabinet resigned after President Thabo Mbeki stepped down. The 14 members include the vice-president and the finance minister. ANC head Jacob Zuma said there was "no need to panic".


South Africans have "no need to panic" despite one third of the government resigning in the wake of President Thabo Mbeki standing down, ANC chief Jacob Zuma said Tuesday.

"The resignations do not pose a crisis and there is no need to panic," Zuma, the head of the African National Congress (ANC) party, said in a speech in Secunda, in the north-eastern province of Mpumalanga.

"The situation will be managed carefully to avoid any disruption of services," Zuma said, calling on public servants to "focus on the work at hand."

"The political situation will be resolved soon and should not affect service delivery at all," he added.

Fourteen government officials including the vice-president, finance minister Trevor Manuel, nine other ministers and three junior ministers resigned Tuesday after it was announced Mbeki would step down as president of South Africa, effective Thursday.

The ANC party is seeking assurances that Manuel and other ministers will be available for the transitional government.

South Africa's parliament, two-thirds of which is controlled by the ANC, voted overwhelmingly in favour of effecting Mbeki's resignation on September 25, with only 10 votes against the motion.

ANC deputy chief Kgalema Motlanthe was named as the party's candidate to take over as head of state. Parliament will vote on Thursday to elect him to the post, and he will be sworn in later in the day.

Motlanthe will hold the position until new general elections are held in the second-half of 2009.

Mbeki, who announced his resignation Sunday after pressure from the ANC, attempted to salvage his reputation in the Constitutional Court, as he challenged a court ruling which he says cost him his job as president.

In a September 12 ruling, Judge Chris Nicholson dismissed a corruption case against Zuma, Mbeki's longtime  political rival, hinting that Mbeki had interfered in the decision to prosecute his foe -- allegations the outgoing president denies.

Mbeki, 66, who succeeded Nelson Mandela as president in June 1999, becomes the country's first democratically elected president to be forced out of office before the end of his term.

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