South African President Thabo Mbeki resigned, after his ruling African National Congress voted to oust him. Mbeki’s position was jeopardized after a court suggested that he and his ministers had meddled in the corruption charges against a rival, ANC president Jacob Zuma, who is now expected to succeed Mbeki next year. (The Washington Post)
What the commentators said
The autocratic Mbeki “was the architect of his own political demise,” said Johannesburg’s The Times in an editorial. He used the power of his office to punish political rivals, and not just Zuma. Now “scores have been settled”—let’s hope the 40 million South Africans don’t pay the price.
South Africa’s democracy will survive Mbeki’s ouster, said South Africa’s Business Day in an editorial, but at a cost. It would have been better, for the ANC and the country’s stability, to let Mbeki finish his term on “a tight leash.”
Mbeki will be remembered mainly for his failures, said Alec Russell in the Financial Times. Business people will fondly recall his “orthodox free-market” economic stewardship, but the rest of the world will remember his deadly disclaiming of an HIV-AIDS link and his do-nothing “quiet diplomacy” in Zimbabwe.