11 S. African Ministers Quit Amid Shake-up
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Johannesburg, South Africa — South Africa’s finance minister and 10 other cabinet members stunned the ruling African National Congress by resigning yesterday after President Mbeki was forced from office.
The ministers said they were quitting on principle because they had been appointed by Mr. Mbeki, but were willing to return to their posts after an interim president takes over tomorrow.
Although the resignations were symbolic, they came in direct defiance of a plea from the ANC leader, Jacob Zuma, who is likely to become president after elections next year. The announcement by Trevor Manuel, seen as the architect of South Africa’s economic growth, caused the rand and the stock exchange to slump, although they later recovered.
The resignations briefly fuelled rumours of a split between factions loyal to the party leader and the outgoing president. For a while it appeared there could be a major breakaway by Mr. Mbeki’s supporters.
Only a day earlier Mr. Zuma had said: “We call on all ANC ministers to continue their work and serve the people of our country.”
Gwede Mantashe, the ANC’s secretary general, said five of the ministers — including Mr. Manuel — would be reappointed by the administration due to be formed by Kgalema Motlanthe after parliament approves him tomorrow.
“It’s not a question of reappointing him, Trevor is the minister of finance,” Mr. Mantashe said. “We have asked all the ministers to continue in their deployment.” He said six of those who had resigned had said they did not want to be reappointed.
“Obviously there’s a section of the cabinet that doesn’t want to serve,” the director of the Centre for the Study of Democracy, Steven Friedman, said. “It’s interesting but it’s not a crisis.”