Greater Middle East
|About Thabo Mvuyelwa Mbeki
Date of birth: 18 June 1942, Idutywa, Queenstown, one of four children of Mr Govan and Mrs Epainette Mbeki
Marital status: Married to Zanele Dlamini (1974)
President of the Republic of South Africa (since 14 June 1999)
President of the ANC (since 1997)
Attended primary school in Idutywa and Butterworth and high school education at Lovedale, Alice
Expelled from school as a result of student strikes (1959) and forced to continue studies at home
Sat for matriculation examinations at St John’s High School, Umtata (1959)
Completed British "A" levels examinations (1960 and 1961)
Undertook first year economics degree as an external student with the University of London (1961-1962)
Master of Economics degree, University of Sussex (1966)
Joined ANC Youth League (ANCYL) while a student at Lovedale Institute (1956)
Involved in underground activities in the Pretoria-Witwatersrand area after the ANC was banned in 1960
Involved in mobilising the students and youth in support of the ANC call for a stay away, in protest against the creation of a Republic (1961)
Elected Secretary of the African Students Association (December 1961)
Left South Africa together with other students on instructions of the ANC (1962). Went to the then Southern Rhodesia, now Zimbabwe, the then Tanganyika, now Tanzania and the United Kingdom to study
Continued with political activities as a university student in the UK, mobilising the international student community against apartheid
Worked for the ANC office in London (1967-1970). Underwent military training in the then Soviet Union during this period
Served as Assistant Secretary to the Revolutionary Council of the ANC in Lusaka (1971)
Sent to Botswana (1973). He was among the first ANC leaders to have contact with exiled and visiting members of the Black Consciousness Movement (BCM). As a result of his contact and discussions with the BCM, some of the leading members of this organisation found their way into the ranks of the ANC
The focus of his activities during this time was to consolidate the underground structures of the ANC and to mobilise the people inside South Africa
Engaged the Botswana government in discussions to open an ANC office in that country. Left Botswana (1974)
Sent to Swaziland as acting representative of the ANC, part of his task was the internal mobilisation and the creation of underground structures
Became a member of the National Executive Committee (NEC) of the ANC (1975)
Sent to Nigeria (December 1976) as a representative of the ANC. Played a major role in assisting students from South Africa to relocate in an unfamiliar environment
Left Nigeria and returned to Lusaka (February 1978)
Political Secretary in the Office of the President of the ANC (1978)
Director of the Department of Information and Publicity (1984-1989)
Re-elected to the NEC (1985). Served as Director of Information and as Secretary for Presidential Affairs
Member of the ANC’s political and military council
Member of the delegation that met the South African business community led by the Chairman of Anglo American, Gavin Relly, at Mfuwe, Zambia (1985)
Led a delegation of the ANC to Dakar, Senegal, where talks were held with a delegation from the Institute for a Democratic Alternative for South Africa (Idasa) (1987)
Led the ANC delegation which held secret talks with the South African government from 1989 and which led to agreements about the unbanning of the ANC and the release of political prisoners
Part of the delegation which engaged the government in "talks about talks". He participated in the Groote Schuur and Pretoria deliberations, which resulted in the agreements which became known as the Groote Schuur and Pretoria Minutes (1990)
Participated in all subsequent negotiations leading to the adoption of the interim Constitution for the new South Africa
Elected chairperson of the ANC (1993). The election to this post meant succeeding the late former President and chairperson of the ANC, OR Tambo, with whom he has had a close working relationship over the years
Executive Deputy President in the South African Government (1994-13 June 1999)
Honours and Awards as President of South Africa
Honorary Doctorate from the Rand Afrikaans University, 17 September 1999
Honorary Doctorate of Laws from the Glasgow Caledonian University, 19 May 2000
News Maker of the year from Pretoria News Press Association, 22 August 2000
Source: Office of the Presidency, 31 May 2001
Name: Republic of South Africa
Area: 1.2 million sq. km. (470,462 sq. mi.).
Cities: Capitals --Administrative, Pretoria; Legislative, Cape Town; Judicial, Bloemfontein. Other cities --Johannesburg, Durban, Port Elizabeth.
Terrain: Plateau, savanna, desert, mountains, coastal plains.
Climate: moderate; similar to southern California.
Nationality: Noun and adjective --South African(s).
Annual growth rate (2000): 1.5%.
Population (2001, 44.6 million): Composition --black 77.8%; white 10.2%; colored 8.7%; Asian (Indian) 2.5%; other 0.8.5%.
Languages: Afrikaans, English, Ndebele, Pedi, Sotho, Swazi, Tsonga, Tswana, Venda, Xhosa, Zulu (all official languages).
Religions: Predominantly Christian; traditional African, Hindu, Muslim, Jewish.
Education: Years compulsory --7-15 years of age for all children. The South African Schools Act, Act 84 of 1996, passed by Parliament in 1996, aims to achieve greater educational opportunities for black children, mandating a single syllabus and, more equitable funding for schools.
Health (official): Infant mortality rate (1998) --45.4 per live births. Estimates from international organizations range from 50 to 60 per live births. Life expectancy --54 yrs. women; 52 yrs. men.
Type: Executive --president; bicameral Parliament.
Independence: The Union of South Africa was created on May 31, 1910; became sovereign state within British Empire in 1934; became a Republic on May 31, 1961; left the Commonwealth in October 1968.
Constitution: Nonracial, democratic constitution came into effect April 27, 1994; rejoined the Commonwealth in May 1994.
Branches: Executive --president (chief of state) elected to a 5-year term by the National Assembly. Legislative --bicameral Parliament consisting of 490 members in two chambers. National Assembly (400 members) elected by a system of proportional representation. National Council of Provinces consisting of 90 delegates (10 from each province) and 10 nonvoting delegates representing local government. Judicial --Constitutional Court interprets and decides constitutional issues; Supreme Court of Appeal is the highest court for interpreting and deciding nonconstitutional matters.
Administrative subdivisions: Nine provinces: Eastern Cape, Free State, Gauteng, KwaZulu-Natal, Mpumalanga, North-West, Northern Cape, Limpopo, Western Cape. Political parties: African National Congress (ANC), Democratic Party (DP), New National Party (NNP), Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP), Vryheidsfront/Freedom Front (FF), Pan-African Congress (PAC), African Christian Democratic Party (ACDP), United Democratic Movement (UDM), and the Federal Alliance.
Suffrage--Citizens and permanent residents 18 and older.
GDP (2000): $126 billion. (2001 GDP--at market prices--R975,196 million)
GDP growth rate (2001): 2.0%.
GDP per capita (2000): $2,900.
Unemployment (2000): 23.3%.
Natural resources: Almost all essential commodities, except petroleum products and bauxite. Only country in the world that manufactures fuel from coal.
Industry: Types --minerals, mining, motor vehicles and parts, machinery, textiles, chemicals, fertilizer, information technology, electronics, other manufacturing, and agroprocessing.
Trade (2000): Exports --$31.5 billion (2001 merchandise exports R232.4 billion; 2001 gold exports R29.4 billion): gold, other minerals and metals, agricultural products, motor vehicles and parts. Major markets --U.K., U.S., Germany, Italy, Japan, East Asia, Sub-Saharan Africa. Imports --$27.3 billion (2001 merchandise imports R219.9 billion): machinery, transport equipment, chemicals, petroleum products, textiles, and scientific instruments. Major suppliers --Germany, U.S., Japan, U.K., Italy.
GDP composition (2000): Agriculture and mining (primary sector)--9.7%; industry (secondary sector)--24.4%; services (tertiary sector)--65.9%. World's largest producer of platinum, gold, and chromium; also significant coal production.