Archive for the ‘Politicians’ Category

Phumzile Mlambo, South African Politician   2 comments

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka (Zulu pronunciation: [pʰumziːle m̩lamboᵑǀʱuːkʼa]; born 3 November 1955[2]) is a South African politician who was Deputy President of South Africa from 2005 to 2008. She was the first woman to hold the position and was the highest ranking woman in the history of South Africa. She is married to the former head of the National Prosecuting Authority, Bulelani Ngcuka.


She obtained a bachelor’s degree in social science and education from the National University of Lesotho in 1980, as well as a master’s degree in philosophy from the University of Cape Town in 2003, which dealt with educational planning and policy.

  Youth development

From 1981 to 1983 she taught in KwaZulu-Natal, after which she moved to Geneva to work with the World Young Women’s Christian Association (YWCA) from 1984 to 1989, as the organisation’s Youth Director, where she advocated for job creation for young people within the UN system and promoted development education in Africa, Asia and the Middle East. During this time she also founded and directed the Young Women’s International Programme. From 1987 to 1989 she was director of TEAM, a developmental Non-Government Organisation (NGO) in Cape Town, as well as being involved with squatter women and African independent churches to promote economic self-reliance and running skills training programmes. From 1990 to 1992 she was director of World University Services, a funding agency, as well as being involved in the management of funds donated to development organisations by Swedish and Swiss government development agencies. She started and managed her own management consulting company, Phumelela Services, during 1993 and 1994.

 Member of Parliament

In 1994 Mrs Mlambo-Ngcuka became a Member of Parliament, chairing the Public Service Portfolio Committee. She was deputy minister in the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) from 1996 until 1999, during which time she also was a founding member of the Guguletu Community Development Corporation. From 1997 she served as member of the national executive committee of the African National Congress (ANC), as well as being the provincial vice-chairperson of the ANC Western Cape.

Mlambo-Ngcuka was Minister of Minerals and Energy from June 1999 to June 2005. During this time she was a driving force behind the government’s policy of creating New Order Mining Rights which ended a period where big mining firms which controlled nearly all South Africa’s minerals reserves, were able to hold mining rights to them in perpetuity. Mlambo-Ngucka’s policy of ‘use it or lose it’ created a situation where mining rights became available to a much broader segment of the population including many previously disadvantaged black people. She served as acting Minister of Arts, Culture, Science and Technology from February 2004 to April 2004.[2]

She led the Southern African Development Community mission to observe the controversial 2005 Zimbabwe parliamentary election, which congratulated “the people of Zimbabwe for holding a peaceful, credible and well-mannered election which reflects the will of the people”.

  Deputy President

On 22 June 2005, President Thabo Mbeki appointed her as deputy president of South Africa, after he relieved Jacob Zuma of the post the week before. Mlambo-Ngcuka’s husband, Bulelani Ngcuka, was head of South Africa’s National Directorate of Public Prosecutions at the time and charged with fighting organised crime. It was the NDPP which had determined that criminal charges should be brought against Zuma. It is Zuma’s position that the charges against him are politically motivated. Soon after her appointment she was booed by Zuma supporters at a rally in KwaZulu-Natal, an incident that was not covered by the public broadcaster, the SABC, which led to accusations of bias.[3] In August 2005, commenting on the slow pace of the Willing Buyer Willing Seller land reform program in South Africa, she stated that South Africa could learn about land reform from Zimbabwe. This comment caused alarm and was condemned by the parliamentary opposition.[4]

In December 2007, she lost her position on the ANC’s National Executive Committee after party delegates elected a pro-Zuma slate.[5]

President Mbeki resigned in September 2008 after the National Executive Committee, objecting to Mbeki’s alleged role in Jacob Zuma’s prosecution for criminal activities, decided to recall him. On September 23, in the wake of this, most of the South African cabinet resigned, Mlambo-Ngcuka among them.[6]

Mlambo-Ngcuka joined COPE in late February, 2009.[7]


During her tenure as Minister of Minerals and Energy the parastatal company PetroSA made an advance payment of ZAR15 million (approx. $1.5m) to a private company Imvume, which in turn made a ZAR11 million donation to the ANC ahead of the 2004 elections. It is alleged that Imvume has close links to the ANC. These events have been dubbed the “Oilgate” scandal by South African media.

Although there was never any evidence that Mlambo-Ngcuka was involved in any way media reports cast suspicion her way. In order to clear her name Mlambo-Ngcuka asked South Africa’s public defender to investigate the issue. The subsequent report cleared her completely. Because Mlambo-Ngcuka’s brother Bonga Mlambo was involved with Imvume on a planned hotel project at the time, he was at first alleged to have been involved in Imvume’s oil business. These allegations also proved to be groundless.[8]

Mrs Mlambo-Ngcuka faced another controversy in January 2006 when it emerged that she went with her family and a friend Thuthukile Mazibuko-Skweyiya in December 2005, on a taxpayer-funded holiday at the cost of ZAR4 million to the United Arab Emirates. This was dubbed the Gravy Plane scandal by the South African media, and came at a sensitive time, as the ANC was preparing to fight local government elections. Once again Mlambo-Ngcuka asked the South African public defender to investigate and once again she was cleared of any wrong doing. The public protector found that the South African security services had decided that because of security reasons a government plane be used for the journey and that Mlambo-Ngcuka had no role in influencing this decision.


Posted March 6, 2012 by pennylibertygbow in Politicians

Kgalema Petrus Motlanthe, South African Politician   Leave a comment

Kgalema Petrus Motlanthe (pronounced [ˈkxɑ.lɪ.mɑ mʊ.ˈtɬʼɑ.n.tʰɛ])[1] (born 19 July 1949) is a South African politician who served as President of South Africa between 25 September 2008 and 9 May 2009, completing the second elected term of Thabo Mbeki.[2]

Following the end of his presidency, Motlanthe was appointed as the Deputy President of South Africa by his successor, current South African president Jacob Zuma. Motlanthe is also concurrently serving as Deputy President of the African National Congress (ANC), a position he has held since 2007, likewise under Zuma who is also the current President of the ANC.

Motlanthe, who had maintained a low public profile, was elected to the presidency of South Africa by the South African National Assembly following the resignation of Mbeki, and was widely considered to be acting as a “caretaker president” on behalf of Zuma.[3] Zuma succeeded Motlanthe on 9 May 2009 in a presidential election held by the South African National Assembly, following the 2009 general election which had been won by the ANC.[2]

Motlanthe was previously a student activist, trade unionist and member of the ANC’s military wing Umkhonto we Sizwe during the struggle against South Africa under apartheid.[4] Today, Motlanthe, a left-leaning intellectual, is seen as a highly skilled political operator within the politics of South Africa, and a key figure behind the success of Jacob Zuma.[5][6] Motlanthe also holds the status of having been South Africa’s first Tswana-speaking president.[7]

  Early life

Motlanthe was born on 19 July 1949 in Alexandra township, Johannesburg, the son of a mineworker[8] and a garment worker, Sophie Motlanthe.[9] He attended the Anglican Missionary school now known as Pholoso Primary and matriculated from Orlando High School in Meadowlands, Soweto after his family was forcibly removed there in 1959.[9] The formative influence in his early years was the Anglican Church.[10] He served as an altar boy for many years and at one point thought of becoming a priest.

In the 1970s, while working for the Johannesburg City Council, he was recruited into Umkhonto we Sizwe, the military wing of the ANC. He formed part of a unit tasked with recruiting comrades for military training.[11] On 14 April 1976, he was arrested for furthering the aims of the ANC and was kept in detention for 11 months at John Vorster Square in central Johannesburg. In 1977 he was found guilty of three charges under the Terrorism Act and sentenced to an effective 10 years imprisonment on Robben Island, from 1977 to 1987.[12][13] According to the 1977 Survey of Race Relations: “they were alleged to have undergone training for sabotage, promoted ANC activities, and received explosives for sabotage. All pleaded not guilty. Mr Justice Human found Nkosi and Mothlanthe [sic] guilty and sentenced them to effective jail sentences of 10 years each. Mosoeu was acquitted.”

On his years in prison:

“We were a community of people who ranged from the totally illiterate to people who could very easily have been professors at universities. We shared basically everything. The years out there were the most productive years in one’s life, we were able to read, we read all the material that came our way, took an interest in the lives of people even in the remotest corners of this world. To me those years gave meaning to life.”[10]

Kgalema Motlanthe

Shortly after his release he was elected Secretary-General of the National Union of Mineworkers. In January 1992 the Central Executive Committee elected him acting General Secretary in January over Marcel Golding, and in 1997 he was elected Secretary-General of the ANC, replacing Cyril Ramaphosa.[8] He is married with two daughters and a son.[12]

 In Parliament

Motlanthe was elected Deputy President of the African National Congress at the party’s 52nd National Conference in Polokwane in December 2007, defeating the Mbeki camp’s choice of Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma.[14] The new ANC leadership, dominated by supporters of Jacob Zuma, applied pressure on President Thabo Mbeki to appoint Motlanthe to the cabinet. He became a Member of Parliament in May 2008[15] and in July was appointed to the cabinet by Mbeki as Minister without Portfolio. This was seen as a step towards a smooth transition to a future Zuma government.[16][17]

Following a resolution by the ANC National Executive Commission to “recall” Mbeki from the presidency, Mbeki announced his resignation on 20 September 2008. On 23 September, Nathi Mthethwa, the ANC’s Chief Whip, announced that Mbeki’s resignation would take effect on 25 September 2008, and ANC President Jacob Zuma said that his deputy, Kgalema Motlanthe, would become president until the 2009 general election: “I am convinced – if given that responsibility – he (Motlanthe) would be equal to the task.”[18][19]


On 25 September 2008, Kgalema Motlanthe was elected by Parliament as the third post-apartheid President of South Africa. The Chief Justice, Pius Langa, announced Motlanthe’s election after a secret parliamentary ballot contested between Motlanthe and Joe Seremane from the opposition Democratic Alliance.[20] In the ballot, Motlanthe gained 269 votes from the 351 cast.[21]

Motlanthe has expressed his desire to address AIDS in South Africa using conventional scientific approaches. He appointed Barbara Hogan to replace Mbeki’s health minister Manto Tshabalala-Msimang, who had denounced anti-retroviral drugs as poisons and advised the use of olive oil, garlic, and beetroot by HIV-positive persons.[22] In early March 1998 he led the ANC’s charge against the Medicines Control Council for refusing to allow the testing of Virodene on human subjects. He suggested that the MCC was acting under the sway of rival pharmaceutical manufacturers[10] saying “I surmise that the council is driven by other interests than concern for proper control of medicines”.

Motlanthe caused some controversy in South Africa when he did not reinstate the Head of the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA), Vusi Pikoli in December 2008.[23]

President Motlanthe gave his first and only State of the Nation Address on 6 February 2009.[24]


Motlanthe is separated from his wife Mapula Motlanthe, a radiographer who used to work at Leratong Hospital in Mogale City. They were separated before he became President of South Africa.[25][26] He and his girlfriend businesswoman Gugu Mtshali, will reportedly move into a “Bali-style” rented mansion in Houghton, Gauteng.[27]

Posted March 6, 2012 by pennylibertygbow in Politicians

Thabo Mvuyelwa Mbeki, South African Politician   Leave a comment

Thabo Mvuyelwa Mbeki[1] (pronunciation: [tʰaɓɔ mbɛːkʼi]; born 18 June 1942) is a South African politician who served two terms as the second post-apartheid President of South Africa from 14 June 1999[2] to 24 September 2008.[3] He is also the brother of Moeletsi Mbeki. On 20 September 2008, he announced his resignation after being recalled by the African National Congress‘s National Executive Committee,[4] following a conclusion by Judge Nicholson of improper interference in the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA), including the prosecution of Jacob Zuma for corruption.[5] On 12 January 2009, the Supreme Court of Appeal unanimously overturned Judge Nicholson’s judgment[6][7][8] but the resignation stood.

Thabo Mbeki was the executive face of government in South Africa from 1994. During his time in office the economy grew at an average rate of 4.5% per annum. Mbeki created employment in the middle sectors of the economy and oversaw a fast growing black middle class with the implementation of BEE. This growth exacerbated the demand for trained professionals strained by emigration due to violent crime, but failed to address unemployment amongst the unskilled bulk of the population. He attracted the bulk of Africa’s Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) and made South Africa the focal point of African growth. He was the architect of NEPAD whose aim is to develop an integrated socio-economic development framework for Africa.[9] He also oversaw the successful building of economic bridges to BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India and China) nations with the eventual formation of the India-Brazil-South Africa (IBSA) Dialogue Forum to “further political consultation and co-ordination as well as strengthening sectoral co-operation, and economic relations”.[10]

Mbeki has mediated in difficult and complex issues on the African continent including Burundi, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), the Ivory Coast, and some important peace agreements. He oversaw the transition from the Organisation of African Unity (OAU) to the African Union (AU). His ‘quiet diplomacy’ in Zimbabwe, however, is blamed for protracting the survival of Robert Mugabe‘s regime at the cost of thousands of lives and intense economic pressure on Zimbabwe’s neighbours. He became a vocal leader of the Non-Aligned Movement in the United Nations and while leveraging South Africa’s seat on the Security Council,[11] agitating for reform of the Security Council.[12]

Mbeki has received worldwide criticism for his AIDS stance. He questions the link between viruses and AIDS and believes that the correlation between poverty and the AIDS rate in Africa was a challenge to the viral theory of AIDS. His fate was not helped by Health Minister Manto Tshabalala-Msimang and the overhaul of the pharmaceutical industry in South Africa. The delay in distributing antiretroviral drugs is attributed to the ban he placed on their use in public state hospitals, and is also linked to the estimated deaths of some hundreds of thousands. Thabo Mbeki has also been criticized for responding on negative comments made about governance by accusing them of racism.[13]

  Early life

Born and raised in Idutywa (Transkei), what is now the Eastern Cape province of South Africa, Mbeki is one of four children of Epainette and Govan Mbeki. His father was a stalwart of the African National Congress (ANC) and the South African Communist Party. He is a native Xhosa speaker. His parents were both teachers and activists in a rural area of ANC strength, and Mbeki describes himself as “born into the struggle”; a portrait of Karl Marx sat on the family mantelpiece, and a portrait of Mohandas Gandhi was on the wall.[14]

Mbeki attended primary school in Idutywa and Butterworth and acquired a high school education at Lovedale, Alice. In 1959, he was expelled from school as a result of student strikes and forced to continue studies at home. In the same year, he sat for matriculation examinations at St. John’s High School, Umtata. In the ensuing years, he completed British “A” levels examinations and undertook an economics degree as an external student with the University of London. During this time, the ANC was banned and Mbeki was involved in underground activities in the PretoriaWitwatersrand area. He was also involved in mobilising students in support of the ANC call for a stay at home to be held in protest of South Africa’s becoming a republic.

In December 1961, Mbeki was elected secretary of the African Students’ Association. In the following year, he left Africa on instructions of the ANC.

Govan Mbeki had come to the rural Eastern Cape as a political activist after earning two university degrees; he urged his family to make the ANC their family, and of his children, Thabo Mbeki is the one who most clearly followed that instruction, joining the party at age 14 and devoting his life to it thereafter.[14][15]

  Marriage and family

Mbeki married his wife Zanele (née Dlamini) at Farnham Castle, in the United Kingdom,[16] in 1974.[17]

 Exile and return

After leaving the Eastern Cape, Thabo Mbeki lived in Johannesburg, working with Walter Sisulu. After the arrest and imprisonment of Sisulu, Mandela and his father—and facing a similar fate—he left South Africa as one of a number of young ANC militants (Umkhonto we Sizwe cadres) sent abroad to continue their education and their anti-apartheid activities. He ultimately spent 28 years in exile, returning to his homeland only after the release of Nelson Mandela.

Mbeki spent the early years of his exile in the United Kingdom. In 1962, aged 19, he arrived at the brand-new University of Sussex, earning first a BA degree in economics, and then remaining to complete a Master’s degree in African studies. While at Sussex he saw himself as a representative of the ANC and helped motivate the university population against apartheid.[18] Still in the UK, he worked in the ANC’s London office on Penton Street. He received military training in the Soviet Union and lived at different times in Botswana, Swaziland and Nigeria, but his primary base was in Lusaka, Zambia, the site of the ANC headquarters.

In 1973, Mbeki was sent to Botswana, where he engaged the Botswana government in discussions to open an ANC office there. He left Botswana in 1974.

In 1975, he became a member of the National Executive Committee of the ANC. In December 1976, he was sent to Nigeria as a representative of the ANC.

While in exile, his brother Jama Mbeki, a supporter of the rival Pan Africanist Congress, was killed by agents of the Lesotho government in 1982 while attempting to assist the Lesotho Liberation Army. His son Kwanda –the product of a liaison in Mbeki’s teenage years – was killed while trying to leave South Africa to join his father. When Mbeki finally was able to return home to South Africa and was reunited with his own father, the elder Mbeki told a reporter, “You must remember that Thabo Mbeki is no longer my son. He is my comrade!” A news article pointed out that this was an expression of pride, explaining, “For Govan Mbeki, a son was a mere biological appendage; to be called a comrade, on the other hand, was the highest honour.”[14]

Mbeki devoted his life to the ANC and during his years in exile was given increased responsibility. Following the 1976 Soweto riots – a student uprising in the township outside Johannesburg – he initiated a regular radio broadcast from Lusaka, tying ANC followers inside the country to their exiled leaders. Encouraging activists to keep up the pressure on the apartheid regime was a key component in the ANC’s campaign to liberate their country. In the late 1970s, Mbeki made a number of trips to the United States in search of support among U.S. corporations. Literate and funny, he made a wide circle of friends in New York City. Mbeki was appointed head of the ANC’s information department in 1984 and then became head of the international department in 1989, reporting directly to Oliver Tambo, then President of the ANC. Tambo was Mbeki’s long-time mentor.

In 1985, Mbeki was a member of a delegation that began meeting secretly with representatives of the South African business community, and in 1989, he led the ANC delegation that conducted secret talks with the South African government. These talks led to the unbanning of the ANC and the release of political prisoners. He also participated in many of the other important negotiations between the ANC and the government that eventually led to the democratisation of South Africa.[1]

He became a deputy president of South Africa in May 1994 on the attainment of universal suffrage (Right To Vote), and sole deputy-president in June 1996. He succeeded Nelson Mandela as ANC president in December 1997 and as president of the Republic in June 1999 (inaugurated on 16 June); he was subsequently reelected for a second term in April 2004.

 Role in African politics

Mbeki has been a notably powerful figure in African politics, positioning South Africa as a regional power broker and also promoting the idea that African political conflicts should be solved by Africans. He headed the formation of both the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) and the African Union (AU) and has played influential roles in brokering peace deals in Rwanda, Burundi, Ivory Coast and the Democratic Republic of Congo. He has also tried to popularise the concept of an African Renaissance. He sees African dependence on aid and foreign intervention as a major barrier to the continent’s being taken seriously in the world of economics and politics, and sees structures like NEPAD and the AU as part of a process in which Africa solves its own problems without relying on outside assistance.

  Economic policies

The CIA World Factbook says: “South African economic policy is fiscally conservative, but pragmatic, focusing on targeting inflation and liberalising trade as means to increase job growth and household income.”[19]

Mbeki, as an ANC insider and while president, was a major force behind the continued neoliberal structure of the South African economy. He drew criticism from the left for his perceived abandonment of state-interventionist social democratic economic policies – such as nationalization, land reform, and democratic capital controls – prescribed by the Freedom Charter, the ANC’s seminal document.[20]

  Political style

Mbeki giving a speech to District Six land claimants in Cape Town

Mbeki has sometimes been characterised as remote and academic, although in his second campaign for Presidency in 2004, many observers described him as finally relaxing into a more traditional campaign mode, sometimes dancing at events and even kissing babies.[citation needed] Yet, the fact that this was remarkable confirms the broader observation that Mbeki values the exercise of centralised policy over demonstrations of grassroots populism.[original research?]

Mbeki used his weekly column in the ANC newsletter ANC Today,[21] to produce discussions on a variety of topics. He sometimes used his column to deliver pointed invectives against political opponents, and at other times used it as a kind of professor of political theory, educating ANC cadres on the intellectual justifications for ANC policy. Although these columns were remarkable for their dense prose, they often were used to influence news. Although Mbeki did not generally make a point of befriending or courting reporters, his columns and news events often yielded good results for his administration by ensuring that his message is a primary driving force of news coverage.[22] Indeed, in initiating his columns, Mbeki stated his view that the bulk of South African media sources did not speak for or to the South African majority, and stated his intent to use ANC Today to speak directly to his constituents rather than through the media.[23]

  Mbeki and the Internet

Mbeki appears to have been at ease with the Internet and willing to quote from it. For instance, in a column discussing Hurricane Katrina,[24] he cited Wikipedia, quoted at length a discussion of Katrina’s lessons on American inequality from the Native American publication Indian Country Today,[25] and then included excerpts from a David Brooks column in the New York Times in a discussion of why the events of Katrina illustrated the necessity for global development and redistribution of wealth.

His penchant for quoting diverse and sometimes obscure sources, both from the Internet and from a wide variety of books, made his column an interesting parallel to political blogs although the ANC does not describe it in these terms. His views on AIDS (see below) were supported by Internet searching which led him to so-called “AIDS denialist” websites; in this case, Mbeki’s use of the Internet was roundly criticised and even ridiculed by opponents.[citation needed]

 Global apartheid

Mbeki has used his position on the world stage to call for an end to global apartheid, a term he uses to describe the disparity between a small minority of rich nations and a great number of impoverished states in the world,[26] arguing that a “global human society based on poverty for many and prosperity for a few, characterised by islands of wealth, surrounded by a sea of poverty, is unsustainable”.[27]



South Africa‘s proximity, strong trade links, and similar struggle credentials place South Africa in a unique position to influence politics in Zimbabwe. Zimbabwe’s hyperinflation since 2000 was a matter of increasing concern to Britain (as the former colonial power) and other donors to that country. High-ranking diplomatic visits to South Africa repeatedly attempted to persuade Mbeki to take a harder line with Robert Mugabe over violent state-sponsored attacks on political opponents and opposition movements, expropriation of white-owned farms by ZANU-PF allied “war veterans”, sanctioning against the press, and infringements on the independence of the judiciary.

Rather than publicly criticising Mugabe’s government, Mbeki chose ‘quiet diplomacy’ over ‘megaphone diplomacy’ – his term for the West’s increasingly forthright condemnation of Mugabe’s rule. Mbeki is even quoted claiming “there is no crisis”[28] in Zimbabwe, despite increased evidence of political violence and murders, hyperinflation, and the influx of political refugees into South Africa.

To quote Mbeki:

“The point really about all this from our perspective has been that the critical role we should play is to assist the Zimbabweans to find each other, really to agree among themselves about the political, economic, social, other solutions that their country needs. We could have stepped aside from that task and then shouted, and that would be the end of our contribution…They would shout back at us and that would be the end of the story. I’m actually the only head of government that I know anywhere in the world who has actually gone to Zimbabwe and spoken publicly very critically of the things that they are doing.”

  2002 Presidential elections

Mugabe faced a critical presidential election in 2002. The run-up was shadowed by a difficult decision to suspend Zimbabwe from the Commonwealth. The full meeting of the Commonwealth had failed in a consensus to decide on the issue, and they tasked the previous, present (at the time), and future leaders of Commonwealth (respectively President Olusegun Obasanjo of Nigeria, John Howard of Australia, and Mbeki of South Africa) to come to a consensus between them over the issue. On 20 March 2002 (10 days after the elections, which Mugabe won) Howard announced that they had agreed to suspend Zimbabwe for a year.

  2005 Parliamentary Elections

In the face of laws restricting public assembly and freedom of the media, restricting campaigning by the MDC for the 2005 Zimbabwe parliamentary elections, President Mbeki was quoted as saying: I have no reason to think that anything will happen … that anybody in Zimbabwe will act in a way that will militate against the elections being free and fair. […] As far as I know, things like an independent electoral commission, access to the public media, the absence of violence and intimidation … those matters have been addressed.

Minerals and Energy Minister Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka led the largest foreign observer mission, the SADC Observer Mission, to oversee the Zimbabwe elections. Contrary to other international missions and parts of the SA Parliamentary Mission, the mission congratulated the people of Zimbabwe for holding a peaceful, credible and well-mannered election which reflects the will of the people. The Democratic Alliance delegation (part SA Parliamentary Observer Mission) clashed with the minister and eventually submitted a separate report contradicting her findings. The elections were widely denounced and many accused Zanu-PF of massive and often violent intimidation, using food to buy votes, and large discrepancies in the tallying of votes.[29][30][31][32]

 Dialogue between Zanu-PF and MDC

Mbeki attempted to restore dialogue between Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe and the opposition Movement for Democratic Change in the face of denials from both parties. A fact-finding mission in 2004 by Congress of South African Trade Unions to Zimbabwe led to their widely-publicised deportation back to South Africa which reopened the debate, even within the ANC, as to whether Mbeki’s policy of ‘quiet diplomacy’ was constructive.

On 5 February 2006 Mbeki said in an interview with SABC television that Zimbabwe had missed a chance to resolve its political crisis in 2004 when secret talks to agree on a new constitution ended in failure. He claimed that he saw a copy of a new constitution signed by all parties.[33] The job of promoting dialogue between the ruling party and the opposition was likely made more difficult by divisions within the MDC, splits to which the president alluded when he stated that the MDC were “sorting themselves out.”[34] In turn, the MDC unanimously rejected this assertion. (MDC-Mutambara Faction’s) secretary general Welshman Ncube said “We never gave Mbeki a draft constitution – unless it was ZANU PF which did that. Mbeki has to tell the world what he was really talking about.”[35]

In May 2007 it was reported that Mbeki had been partisan and taken sides with Zanu-PF in his role as mediator. He had given pre-conditions to the opposition Movement for Democratic Change before the dialogue could resume while giving no conditions to the ZANU-PF government. He required that the MDC accept and recognize Robert Mugabe was the president of Zimbabwe, and the MDC accept the 2002 presidential election results[36] despite wide-spread belief of being unfree, unfair, and fraudulent.[37][38][39]

  Business response

On 10 January 2006, businessman Warren Clewlow, on the board of four of the top-10 listed companies in SA, including Old Mutual, Sasol, Nedbank and Barloworld, said that government should stop its unsuccessful behind-the-scenes attempts to resolve the Zimbabwean crisis and start vociferously condemning what was happening in that country. Clewlow’s sentiments reflected the South African private sector’s increasing impatience with Mbeki’s “quiet diplomacy” and were echoed by Business Unity South Africa (BUSA), the umbrella body for business organisations in South Africa.[40]

As the company’s chairman, he said in Barloworld’s latest annual report that SA’s efforts to date were fruitless and that the only means for a solution was for SA “to lead from the front. Our role and responsibility is not just to promote discussion… Our aim must be to achieve meaningful and sustainable change.”

  Position on Mugabe

Mbeki was frequently criticised for having failed to exert pressure on Mr. Mugabe to relinquish power,[41] but chaired meetings in which the Zimbabwean leader’s departure from power is being negotiated.[42] He rejected calls in May 2007 for tough action against Zimbabwe ahead of a visit by the then-UK Prime Minister Tony Blair.[43] He said on 29 July 2007 that Zimbabwe elections in March 2008 must be ‘free and fair’.[44] An article critical of Mbeki’s handling of Mugabe appeared in Forbes and claimed a peaceful transfer of power in Zimbabwe “will not be because of [Mbeki], but in spite of him.” Ebrahim Fakir, a researcher at the Johannesburg-based Centre for Policy Studies, and Susan Booysen, political analyst at the University of the Witwatersrand, say that Mbeki has botched his legacy over his cautious approach to Mugabe. The media has been very critical – The Washington Post published a commentary describing Mbeki as a bankrupt democrat and accused him of complicity in “stealing” the Zimbabwean election. The Economist called Mbeki’s actions “unconscionable”.[45]

 SADC facilitator of Zimbabwe power-sharing agreement

At the end of the fourth day of negotiations, South African President and mediator to Zimbabwe, Thabo Mbeki, announced in Harare that Robert Mugabe of ZANU-PF, professor Arthur Mutambara of MDC-M and Morgan Tsvangirai of MDC-T finally signed the power-sharing agreement – “memorandum of understanding.”[46] Mbeki stated: “An agreement has been reached on all items on the agenda … all of them [Mugabe, Tsvangirai, Mutambara] endorsed the document tonight, and signed it. The formal signing will be done on Monday 10 am. The document will be released then. The ceremony will be attended by the SADC and other African regional and continental leaders. The leaders will spend the next few days constituting the inclusive government to be announced on Monday. The leaders will work very hard to mobilise support for the people to recover. We hope the world will assist so that this political agreement succeeds.” In the signed historic power deal, Mugabe, on 11 September 2008 agreed to surrender day-to-day control of the government and the deal is also expected to result in a de facto amnesty for the military and ZANU-PF party leaders. Opposition sources said “Tsvangirai will become prime minister at the head of a council of ministers, the principal organ of government, drawn from his party and the president’s ZANU-PF party; and Mugabe will remain president and continue to chair a cabinet that will be a largely consultative body, and the real power will lie with Tsvangirai.[47][48][49] South Africa’s Business Day reported, however, that Mugabe was refusing to sign a deal which would curtail his presidential powers.[50] The New York Times said Nelson Chamisa, a spokesman for MDC-T, announced: “This is an inclusive government. The executive power would be shared by the president, the prime minister and the cabinet. Mugabe, Tsvangirai and Arthur Mutambara have still not decided how to divide the ministries. But Jendayi E. Frazer, the American assistant secretary of state for African affairs, said: “We don’t know what’s on the table, and it’s hard to rally for an agreement when no one knows the details or even the broad outlines”[51]

On 15 September 2008, the leaders of the 14-member Southern African Development Community witnessed the signing of the power-sharing agreement, brokered by Mbeki. With symbolic handshake and warm smiles at the Rainbow Towers hotel, in Harare, Mugabe and Tsvangirai signed the deal to end violent political crisis provides. As provided, Mugabe will remain president, Morgan Tsvangirai will become prime minister,[52] the MDC will control the police, Mugabe’s ZANU-PF will command the Army, and Arthur Mutambara becomes deputy prime minister.[53][54]



Thabo Mbeki with George W. Bush

See also: HIV/AIDS in South Africa and AIDS denialism

Mbeki’s views on the causes of AIDS, and in particular the link between HIV and AIDS, and the treatment of AIDS were also much criticised.

In 1995 the International Conference for People Living with HIV and AIDS was held in South Africa, the first time that the annual conference had been held in Africa. At the time Mbeki was Deputy President and in his official capacity acknowledged the seriousness of the epidemic. The South African Ministry of Health announced that some 850,000 people – 2.1% of the total population – were believed to be HIV-positive. In 2000 the Department of Health outlined a five-year plan to combat AIDS, HIV and sexually transmitted infections. A National AIDS Council was established to oversee the implemenation of the plan.

However, after becoming President, Mbeki changed tack and represented the views of a small group of dissident scientists who claimed that AIDS was not caused by HIV.[55] On 9 July 2000, at the International AIDS Conference in Durban, President Mbeki made a speech that attracted much criticism in that he avoided references to HIV and instead focused mainly on poverty as a powerful co-factor in AIDS diagnosis. His administration was repeatedly accused of failing to respond adequately to the AIDS epidemic, and including failing to authorise and implement an overall national treatment program for AIDS that included anti-retroviral medicines, and in particular an anti-retroviral programme to prevent HIV transmission from pregnant mothers to babies while in the womb.

Mbeki’s government did, however, introduce a law allowing cheaper locally-produced generic medicines, and in April 2001 succeeded in defending a legal action brought by transnational pharmaceutical companies to set aside the law. AIDS activists, particularly the Treatment Action Campaign and its allies, thought that the law was intended to support a cheap antiretroviral drugs programme and applauded Mbeki’s government.

However, the Treatment Action Campaign and its allies were eventually forced to resort to the South African Courts which in 2002 ordered the government to make the drug nevirapine available to pregnant women to help prevent mother to child transmission of HIV. Notwithstanding and despite international drug companies offering free or cheap antiretroviral drugs, until 2003, South Africans with HIV who used the public sector health system could only get treatment for opportunistic infections they suffered because of their weakened immune systems, but could not get antiretrovirals designed to specifically target HIV. In November 2003, the government finally approved a plan to make antiretroviral treatment publicly available. It appears that this was only after the Cabinet had overruled the President.

In November 2008, The New York Times reported that due to Thabo Mbeki’s rejection of scientific consensus on AIDS and his embrace of AIDS denialism, an estimated 365,000 people had perished in South Africa.[56]

  2006 Zuma rape trial

In 2006 Jacob Zuma (who became president of South Africa in 2009) went on trial for allegedly raping an HIV-positive woman. He argued that she had consented to sex and he was eventually found not guilty, but attracted controversy when he stated that he had showered after sex in the belief that this would reduce his chances of becoming infected with HIV. Criticism of the government’s response to AIDS heightened, with UN special envoy Stephen Lewis attacking the government as “obtuse and negligent” at the International AIDS Conference in Toronto. At the end of the year, the government announced a draft framework to tackle AIDS and pledged to improve antiretroviral drug access.

  Mbeki and the Cabinet

The South African Constitution allows the Cabinet to override the President. The secret ballot appears to have gone against the president when Cabinet policy declared that HIV is the cause of AIDS. Again in August 2003, Cabinet promised to formulate a national treatment plan that would include ARVs. At the time the Health Ministry was still headed by Dr. Manto Tshabalala-Msimang, who had served as health minister since June 1999, and was promoting nutritional approaches (the infamous “African potatoes and garlic”) to AIDS while highlighting the toxicities of antiretroviral drugs. This led critics to question whether the same leadership that opposed ARV treatment would effectively carry out the treatment plan. Implementation was slow requiring a court judgement to eventually force government to distribute ARV’s. Delivery was further improved when Thabo Mbeki was ousted, Dr. Manto Tshabalala-Msimang re-deployed as the Minister of the Presidency, and Barbara Hogan deployed to Minister of Health.

  AIDS denialist connections

Mbeki’s more inclusive stance led some to connect him to AIDS denialism. While serving as deputy President, AIDS was in his portfolio, and he customarily wore a red ribbon while specifically promoting AIDS prevention measures. He did preside over a controversial and brief embrace of a South African experimental drug called Virodene which later proved to be ineffective; the episode appeared to have increased his skepticism about the scientific consensus that quickly condemned the drug.

After he assumed the Presidency, he appears to have articulated more clearly his understanding that poverty is a significant co-factor in the prevalence of AIDS and other health problems. He urged political attention be directed to addressing poverty generally rather than only against AIDS specifically. Some speculate that the suspicion engendered by a life in exile and by the colonial domination and control of Africa led Mbeki to react against a portrayal of AIDS as another Western characterisation of Africans as promiscuous and Africa as a continent of disease and hopelessness.[57] For example, speaking to a group of university students in 2001, he struck out against what he viewed as the racism underlying how many in the West characterised AIDS in Africa:

Convinced that we are but natural-born, promiscuous carriers of germs, unique in the world, they proclaim that our continent is doomed to an inevitable mortal end because of our unconquerable devotion to the sin of lust.[58]

Additionally, his views dovetailed with some broader themes in African politics. Many Africans find it suspicious that black Africans bear the largest share of the AIDS burden, and that the drugs to treat it are expensive and sold mainly by Western pharmaceutical companies. The history of malicious and manipulative health policies of the colonial and apartheid governments in Africa, including biological warfare programs set up by the apartheid state, also help to fuel views that the scientific discourse of AIDS might be a tool for European and American political, cultural or economic agendas.

ANC rules and Mbeki’s commitment to the idea of party discipline mean that he may not publicly criticise the current government policy that HIV causes AIDS and that antiretrovirals should be provided. Some critics of Mbeki continued to assert that notwithstanding he continued to influence AIDS policy through his personal views behind the scenes, a charge which his office regularly denies.[59] However, in a 2007 published biography “Thabo Mbeki: The Dream Deferred”, author Mark Gevisser describes how the president, knowing that he was writing the biography, contacted him earlier in 2007. This was to ask whether the author had seen a 100-page paper secretly authored by Mr. Mbeki and distributed anonymously among the ANC leadership six years ago. This paper compared orthodox AIDS scientists to latter-day Nazi concentration camp doctors and portrayed black people who accepted orthodox AIDS science as “self-repressed” victims of a slave mentality. It described the “HIV/AIDS thesis” as entrenched in “centuries-old white racist beliefs and concepts about Africans”. In the published biography Mr Gevisser describes the president’s view of the disease as apparently shaped by an obsession with race, the legacy of colonialism and “sexual shame”.[60]

Since release of the biography, President Mbeki’s defenders have tried hard to clarify his position as being an AIDS “dissident” as opposed to an AIDS “denier”. That is, he accepts that HIV causes AIDS but is a dissident in that he is at odds with prevailing AIDS-focused public health policies, stating that it is only one of many immune deficiency diseases, many of which are associated with poverty, and that political attention and resources should be directed to poverty and immune deficiency diseases generally rather than AIDS specifically.

  Electricity crisis

In January 2008 the South African government announced that it would introduce electricity rationing. On 25 January 2008 the country’s deepening power crisis was such that South Africa’s (and the world’s) largest gold and platinum mining companies were forced to shut down operations. Eskom (the national power supplier) and the government both apologized for the blackouts and in his next-to-last State of the Nation speech Mbeki devoted nearly three pages to the electricity crisis, repeating the apologies of Eskom and the government.[61] Mbeki blamed the power shortages on increased demand caused by years of economic growth and the provision of electricity to black townships that were not connected in the apartheid era. But Mbeki also admitted the government had failed to heed warnings from Eskom (the earliest 10 years previously) that without new power stations Eskom might not be able to meet demand by 2007. Each year over the preceding 10 years, Eskom had produced annual Integrated Strategic Electricity Plans each setting out scenarios of future investment requirements to cope with projected increased demand, but although projections of average demand growth in the period 2001–2005 had been accurate, no investment had been forthcoming. Mbeki failed to respond to allegations that the government’s black empowerment strategy had been a root cause of the problem in that small and medium sized black entrepreneurs, in preference to large corporations, had been awarded coal supply tenders. The policy of giving preference to small suppliers had caused problems in securing reliable supplies of coal, and had also, because small suppliers did not have the capital to invest in rail or conveyor belts infrastructure but used coal trucks, accelerated the wear and tear damage to the roads around the power stations. Warnings highlighted in several of Eskom’s annual reports, starting in 2003, had been ignored not only by the Eskom board but also its political masters, Mbeki’s government.

The power problems were further exacerbated by Mbeki’s government policy of attracting energy-intensive industry (such as Aluminium smelters) through the carrot of cheap electricity. This meant that, as Eskom’s excess capacity ran out and became a deficit, the South African government finds itself contractually bound to provide power to energy-intensive industries. Despite this meaning the rest of the country experienced traffic problems and business disruption due to the blackouts. For South Africa to remain a desirable foreign investment destination the country must be seen to honour its contractual obligations. To shut down the smelters is not a simple process, said one analyst. Government would be paying the cost of effects all through the relevant parties aluminium value chain – its aluminium refineries and bauxite ore mines in other countries.[62][63][64][65]


In 2004 President Thabo Mbeki made an attack on commentators who argued that violent crime was out of control in South Africa, calling them white racists who want the country to fail. He said crime was falling but some journalists distorted reality by depicting black people as “barbaric savages” who liked to rape and kill.[13] Annual statistics published in September 2004 showed that most categories of crime were down, but some had challenged the figures’ credibility and said that South Africa remained extremely dangerous, especially for women. In a column for the African National Congress website, the president rebuked the doubters.[66] Mr Mbeki did not name journalist Charlene Smith who had championed victims of sexual violence since writing about her own rape, but quoted a recent article in which she said South Africa had the highest rate of rape and referred (apparently sarcastically) to her as an “internationally recognised expert on sexual violence”.[13] He said: “She was saying our cultures, traditions and religions as Africans inherently make every African man a potential rapist … [a] view which defines the African people as barbaric savages.”[66] Mr Mbeki also described the newspaper The Citizen, and other commentators who challenged the apparent fall in crime, as pessimists who did not trust black rule.[13]

In January 2007, the African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM) draft report on South Africa was released. This noted that South Africa had the world’s second-highest murder rate, with about 50 people a day being killed, and that although serious crime was reported as falling, security analysts said that the use of violence in robberies, and rape, were more common. Mbeki in response said in an interview that fears of crime were exaggerated.[67][68]

In December 2007 the final African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM) report on South Africa, again suggested that there was an unacceptably high level of violent crime in the country.[69] President Mbeki said the suggestion of unacceptably high violent crime appeared to be an acceptance by the panel of what he called “a populist view”.[70] He challenged some of the statistics on crime, which he noted may have resulted from a weak information base, leading to wrong conclusions. Although rape statistics had been obtained from the South African Police Service, “this only denotes the incidents of rape that were reported, some of which could have resulted in acquittals” Mbeki indicated.[70]

 2008 Xenophobia attacks

In May 2008 a series of riots took place in a number of townships, mainly in Gauteng Province, which left 42 dead, several hundred injured and several thousand displaced.[71] The root cause of the riot was xenophobic attacks on foreigners, mainly Zimbabweans who had fled their country following the collapse of the Zimbabwean economy. The migrants were blamed for high levels of unemployment, housing shortages and crime.

Following the riots Mbeki was criticised for ignoring the scale of the problem and failing to deal with the causes of it. The Zimbabwe Exiles Group accused him of being “more concerned with appeasing Mr. Mugabe than recognising the scale of the problem caused by the flood of Zimbabweans into South Africa.”[72]

In response to the violence President Mbeki announced he would set up a panel of experts to investigate the riots,[73] and authorized military force against rioters.[74] This is the first time that such an authorization of military force was used by the government since the end of apartheid.[75]

  Debate with Archbishop Tutu

In 2004 the Archbishop Emeritus of Cape Town, Desmond Tutu, criticised President Mbeki for surrounding himself with “yes-men”, not doing enough to improve the position of the poor and for promoting economic policies that only benefited a small black elite. He also accused Mbeki and the ANC of suppressing public debate. Mbeki responded that Tutu had never been an ANC member and defended the debates that took place within ANC branches and other public forums. He also asserted his belief in the value of democratic discussion by quoting the Chinese slogan “let a hundred flowers bloom”, referring to the brief Hundred Flowers Campaign within the Chinese Communist Party in 1956–57.

The ANC Today newsletter featured several analyses of the debate, written by Mbeki and the ANC.[76][77] The latter suggested that Tutu was an “icon” of “white elites”, thereby suggesting that his political importance was overblown by the media; and while the article took pains to say that Tutu had not sought this status, it was described in the press as a particularly pointed and personal critique of Tutu. Tutu responded that he would pray for Mbeki as he had prayed for the officials of the apartheid government.[78]

  Mbeki, Zuma, and succession

In 2005 Mbeki removed Jacob Zuma from his post as Deputy President of South Africa, after Zuma was implicated in a corruption scandal. In October 2005, some supporters of Zuma (who remained deputy president of the ANC) burned T-shirts portraying Mbeki’s picture at a protest. In late 2005, Zuma faced new rape charges, which dimmed his political prospects. There was visible split between Zuma’s supporters and Mbeki’s allies in the ANC.

In February 2006, Mbeki told the SABC that he and the ANC had no intention to change the Constitution of the country in order to permit him a third term in office. He stated, “By the end of 2009, I will have been in a senior position in government for 15 years. I think that’s too long.”[34]

Mbeki, although barred by the Constitution of South Africa from seeking a third term as president of the country, in 2007 entered the race to be President of the ANC (no term limit exists for the position of ANC president), for a third term, in a close battle with Jacob Zuma.[79] He lost this vote against Jacob Zuma on the 18 December 2007 at the ANC conference in Polokwane. Zuma went on to be the ANC’s presidential candidate in the 2009 general election.


On 12 September 2008, Pietermaritzburg High Court Judge Chris Nicholson ruled that Zuma’s corruption charges were unlawful on procedural grounds, adding there was reason to believe the charges against Zuma had been politically motivated, thereby clearing the way for Zuma to run for president.[80] Mbeki filed affidavit and applied to the Constitutional Court to appeal this ruling: “It was improper for the court to make such far-reaching ‘vexatious, scandalous and prejudicial’ findings concerning me, to be judged and condemned on the basis of the findings in the Zuma matter. The interests of justice, in my respectful submission would demand that the matter be rectified. These adverse findings have led to my being recalled by my political party, the ANC—a request I have acceded to as a committed and loyal member of the ANC for the past 52 years. I fear that if not rectified, I might suffer further prejudice.”[81] Tlali Tlali, National Prosecuting Authority spokesman, stated by phone from Pretoria, on 23 September: “We have received the papers. It’s under consideration.”[82]


Note: Unless otherwise specified, the terms “president” and “deputy president” refer to roles in government, whereas “ANC president” or “ANC deputy president” refer to roles in the ANC political party.

Having “made it a point not to contest this decision” of the ANC NEC that Mbeki was no longer fit to lead South Africa,[83] he formally announced his resignation on 21 September 2008, at 19:30 South African time (17:30 UTC), as a result of the ANC National Executive Committee‘s decision no longer to support him in parliament. This came a few days after the dismissal of a trial against ANC President Jacob Zuma on charges of corruption due to procedural errors. Allusions were made in the ruling to possible political interference by Mbeki and others in his prosecution. Parliament convened on 22 September and accepted his resignation with effect from 25 September; however, because an MP for the Freedom Front opposition party declared his objection to the resignation, a debate was set to take place the following day.

In cases of such a void in the presidency, the constitution regulates the replacement to serve as the interim president: either the deputy president, the speaker of parliament or any MP (Member of Parliament), as chosen by parliament, can take the role of president of the country until the next election. ANC president Jacob Zuma, who was elected president after the next general election, was not eligible as he was at the time none of these.[84]

The current deputy president Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka was unlikely to be chosen either, apparently due to her close ties to Mbeki and because her husband, Bulelani Ngcuka was involved in the decision to charge Zuma with corruption. As a result the Speaker of Parliament, Baleka Mbete, had been cited as the likely caretaker president;[4] however, speaking on behalf of the ANC, Zuma strongly hinted at ANC Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe, who is an MP, becoming Mbeki’s replacement for the remainder of the current term of parliament, which ended in early 2009. Although Zuma could put pressure on the government and his party to choose Motlanthe, the replacement president had to be decided by parliament.

Deputy President Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, Minister in the Presidency Essop Pahad and Minister of Science and Technology Mosibudi Mangena all announced their intentions of resigning.[85]

Nathi Mthethwa, Chief Whip of the ruling African National Congress (ANC) stated that Mbeki’s resignation would take effect on 25 September 2008. ANC President Jacob Zuma said that his deputy, Kgalema Motlanthe, would become acting president until 2009 general elections: “I am convinced – if given that responsibility – he (Motlanthe) would be equal to the task.”[86] The ANC confirmed that “Kgalema Motlanthe is to become caretaker president until 2009 elections, with Baleka Mbete being appointed deputy president.”[87]

  2009 general election

The direction of Mbeki’s vote in South Africa’s 2009 general election was a matter of moot discussion amongst press and public alike. Although Mbeki had completely disassociated himself from party politics subsequent to his resignation, many suggested that COPE, composed in large part of Mbeki loyalists, would secure his mark on the ballot paper. On Election Day, 22 April, having done the deed, Mbeki announced that his vote was a secret and called on the electorate to exercise its democratic right not out of fear or historical loyalty, but for a future that it desired and a party that would further its ends. These sentiments were widely interpreted as pro-COPE; indeed, the party’s First Deputy President Mbhazima Shilowa confirmed on his Facebook page that “i [sic] liked TM’s message”.[88] It was noted, though, that, despite having been invited, Mbeki had failed to attend a COPE rally the week before.


 Honorary degrees

Mbeki has received many honorary degrees from South African and foreign universities. Mbeki received an honorary doctorate in business administration from the Arthur D Little Institute, Boston, in 1994.[89] In 1995, he received honorary doctorate from the University of South Africa and an honorary doctorate of laws from Sussex University.[89] Mbeki was awarded an honorary doctorate from Rand Afrikaans University in 1999.[90] In 2000 he was awarded an honorary doctorate of laws from Glasgow Caledonian University.[91] In 2004, he was awarded an honorary doctorate in commercial sciences by the University of Stellenbosch.[92]

[edit] Orders and decorations

During Mbeki’s official visit to Britain in 2001, he was made an honorary Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the Bath (GCB).[93] The Mayor of Athens, Dora Bakoyannis, awarded Mbeki with the City of Athens Medal of Honour in 2005.[94] During Mbeki’s official visit to Sudan in 2005, he was awarded Sudan’s Insignia of Honour in recognition of his role in resolving conflicts and working for development in the Continent.[95] In 2007, Mbeki was made a Knight of the Most Venerable Order of the Hospital of Saint John of Jerusalem at St George’s Cathedral in Cape Town by the current grand prior, Prince Richard, Duke of Gloucester[96] (born 18 June 1942).[2]

[edit] Awards

Mbeki was awarded the Good Governance Award in 1997 by the US-based Corporate Council on Africa.[97] He received the Newsmaker of the year award from Pretoria News Press Association in 2000[90] and repeated the honour in 2008, this time under the auspices of media research company Monitoring South Africa.[98] In honour of his commitment to democracy in the new South Africa, Mbeki was awarded the Oliver Tambo/ Johnny Makatini Freedom Award in 2000.[90] Mbeki was awarded the Peace and Reconciliation Award at the Gandhi Awards for Reconciliation in Durban in 2003.[99] In 2004, Mbeki was awarded the Good Brother Award by Washington, D.C.‘s National Congress of Black Women for his commitment to gender equality and the emancipation of women in South Africa.[100] In 2005, he was also awarded the Champion of the Earth Award by the United Nations.[101] During the European-wide Action Week Against Racism in 2005, Mbeki was awarded the Rotterdamse Jongeren Raad (RJR) Antidiscrimination Award by the Netherlands.[102] In 2006, he was awarded the Presidential Award for his outstanding service to economic growth and investor confidence in South Africa and Africa and for his role in the international arena by the South African Chambers of Commerce and Industry.[103] In 2007 Mbeki was awarded the Confederation of African Football‘s Order of Merit for his contribution to football on the continent.[104

Posted March 5, 2012 by pennylibertygbow in Politicians

SWAG BABY!!!!   1 comment

Posted March 5, 2012 by pennylibertygbow in Politicians

Robert Menendez, Senator, Civil Rights Activist   Leave a comment

RobertBobMenendez (born January 1, 1954) is the junior United States Senator from New Jersey and a member of the Democratic Party. In January 2006, he was appointed to fill the U.S. Senate seat vacated by Jon Corzine, who resigned upon being elected Governor of New Jersey. Menendez was elected to his own full six-year term in the 2006 U.S. Senate election.

Prior to his appointment to the U.S. Senate, Menendez was a member of the United States House of Representatives, representing New Jersey’s 13th congressional district. He previously served as Mayor of Union City (1986–1992) and as a member of the New Jersey General Assembly and the New Jersey Senate.

Following the 2008 elections, Menendez was appointed to head the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee.[1]

  Early life, education, and law career

Bob Menendez was born on New Year’s Day in New York City to Cuban immigrants[2] who left their homeland a few months earlier, in 1953, seeking economic and political freedom from the repressive government headed by Fulgencio Batista.[3] His father, Mario Menendez, was a mechanic, and his mother, Evangelina, a seamstress.[4] The family subsequently moved to neighboring New Jersey where, growing up in Union City, he graduated from Union Hill High School.

After a B.A. from Saint Peter’s College in Jersey City, he earned his Juris Doctor degree from Rutgers School of Law in Newark. in 1979. He is a brother of Lambda Theta Phi fraternity.[5][6] He was admitted to the New Jersey Bar in 1980 and became a lawyer in private practice.

  Early political career

In 1973, at age 19, while attending Saint Peter’s College in Jersey City, he launched a successful petition drive against his mentor, then-Union City Mayor William Musto, to reform the local school board. He was elected to the Union City Board of Education in 1974. He would stay close to Musto throughout the 1970s, however, and supported Musto in his re-election to the New Jersey Senate in 1978. Menendez would later testify against Musto in a court case that resulted in a prison sentence for Musto. The trial was very controversial, and Musto declared his innocence for the rest of his life.

Menendez was elected mayor of Union City in 1986 after an unsuccessful run against the popular Musto in 1982. Menendez served as mayor until 1992. While mayor, he simultaneously served in the New Jersey Legislature, a common practice for New Jersey politicians. He was in the General Assembly from 1987 until 1991 and in the New Jersey Senate from 1991 to 1993, following the death of Christopher Jackman.[7]

 United States House of Representatives

Menendez as a Congressman

In 1992, 14th District Congressman Frank Guarini retired after seven terms. Menendez won the Democratic nomination for the Jersey City-based district, which was renumbered the 13th after New Jersey lost a district in the 1990 Census, and was easily elected that November. The district was already heavily Democratic, but had been redrawn with a Hispanic majority after the 1990 census. He was reelected six times with no significant Republican opposition.

In 1996, Menendez was briefly a candidate in the Democratic primary for the U.S. Senate seat held by the retiring Bill Bradley, but he backed out and the seat was won by Democrat Robert Torricelli. In 2002 Menendez voted against the Iraq Resolution to authorize the invasion of Iraq.[8]

In 2003, Menendez was elected chairman of the House Democratic Caucus, ranking him third in the Democratic hierarchy in the house, behind House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi of California and Minority Whip Steny Hoyer of Maryland. He was elected to chair the Credentials Committee of the 2004 Democratic National Convention and was a speaker on the first day of the convention. During the 107th Congress, he was chair of the Democratic Task Force on Education and the Democratic Task Force on Homeland Security.

Although he had sometimes been portrayed as the political boss of Hudson County, he strongly dislikes this appellation, particularly because, according to an anonymous close source quoted in the December 11, 2005 Union City Reporter, “there is no boss of Hudson County”.[9]

[edit] United States Senate

Congressman Robert Menendez spoke on the importance of small businesses in the U.S. economy in Texas.

In December 2005, Menendez was appointed by Jon Corzine to fill the remaining year in the Senate seat from which Corzine resigned upon being elected the previous month as Governor of New Jersey. While several other names had been mentioned, Menendez was the early favorite among pundits for Governor-elect Corzine’s replacement to fill the vacancy that would be created when Corzine resigned from the Senate. Corzine’s decision to appoint Menendez got the support of several Latino groups, including the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials. Menendez was the sixth Latino to serve in the United States Senate.


Main article: United States Senate election in New Jersey, 2006

In the midterm elections held November 7, 2006, near the end of his one-year appointment, Menendez successfully ran to retain his seat in the Senate. He defeated Republican Thomas Kean, Jr., current minority whip in the New Jersey Senate and son of former state governor Thomas Kean, with 53% of the vote to Kean’s 45%.

Menendez was endorsed by several newspapers including The New York Times,[10] The Philadelphia Inquirer,[11] The Star-Ledger,[12] and The Record.[13]

On August 27, 2006, two Republican state lawmakers filed an ethics complaint against Menendez, alleging he broke conflict-of-interest rules when he rented property out to a nonprofit agency that receives federal funds. Menendez helped the organization win designation as a Federally Qualified Health Center in 1998. That designation allowed the agency to receive additional federal grants.[14] Menendez allies note that the organization in question, the North Hudson Community Action Corp., which provides social services and health care to the poor and was founded in 1960, had received federal funding for years before Menendez was in Congress, and receives its funding based on mathematical formulas.[15] Menendez maintains that he rented the property out below market-value because “he was supportive of its work”.[16] The total rent collected over nine years was over $300,000.

In September, 2006, just a few weeks before the 2006 senate elections, the Republican US District Attorney began investigating the rental deal with NHCAC, subpoenaing records from them. Democrats criticized the investigation, particularly the timing of the investigation and news leaks as being politically motivated. To date, no charges have been brought and the accusations remain unsubstantiated, one of many in the so-called US Attorneys scandal.[17]

Main article: United States Senate election in New Jersey, 2012

Menendez is running for re-election a full second term.


On February 9, 2010, the Wall Street Journal obtained a copy of a letter [18] from Senator Menendez to the Federal Reserve pushing for approval of a deal for the sale of First BankAmericano of Elizabeth. [19] A media controversy arose due to BankAmericano’s political connections. Its board members included several major campaign contributors to Menendez — among them state Sen. Raymond Lesniak (D-Union)[20], a powerful member of the New Jersey Legislature. First BankAmericano had been under financial pressure for more than a year because of mounting loan losses. A highly critical report by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. also found the institution had engaged in unsafe or unsound banking practices, including operating without adequate supervision by its board of directors, an excessive level of delinquent or bad loans, inadequate earnings and insufficient coverage of its assets. [21]

In 2009, Menendez succeeded Senator Chuck Schumer of New York as chairman of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee. Menendez’s tenure, which has followed two straight election cycles of dramatic Democratic gains, has been marked by more troubled Democratic outlook. Critics of Menendez have pointed out the surprising Democratic loss in the 2010 Massachusetts Senate special election that followed the death of Sen. Ted Kennedy; Menendez’s lower-key, more cautious management style; and Democratic problems caused by retirements in Indiana and elsewhere. Others, such as Schumer, have defended Menendez’s performance, citing the political climate.[22]

Menendez (second from right) marching in the North Hudson Cuban Day Parade with Union City Mayor Brian P. Stack (second from left), June 6, 2010.

In February 2006, Menendez cosponsored legislation with New York Senator Hillary Clinton to make it illegal for foreign governments to buy U.S. port operations. The legislation was a direct response to Dubai Ports World‘s efforts to purchase Peninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation Company (P&O) of the United Kingdom, which operates six major U.S. ports. Menendez said, “Our ports are the front lines of the war on terrorism. They are both vulnerable targets for attack and venues for smuggling and human trafficking. We wouldn’t turn the Border Patrol or the Customs Service over to a foreign government, and we can’t afford to turn our ports over to one either.”[23]

On September 28, 2006 Menendez voted for the Military Commissions Act.[24]

On June 12, 2007, Menendez endorsed Hillary Clinton’s presidential bid and was given the position of National Campaign Co-Chair. Subsequently he made numerous media appearances voicing his support for her campaign.[25]

On April 25, 2008, a former undercover F.B.I. agent revealed in the book Ruse: Undercover with FBI Counterintelligence that Cuban diplomats approached Robert Eringer to investigate Menendez. It was suggested that the Cuban government was determined to generate scandalous information about the senator, along with Representatives Ileana Ros-Lehtinen and Lincoln Diaz-Balart, because of their anti-Castro lobbying efforts.[26]

In October 2009, Menendez sent a strongly worded letter of protest to Cyprus President Dimitris Christofias, castigating him for his praise of Cuba’s totalitarian system. Christofias, the leader of AKEL, Cyprus’ Communist Party, since 1988 and president since 2008, had paid a state visit to Cuba in September 2009 for the opening of Cyprus’ new embassy and, in his speech, made a number of anti-American embargo references, and spoke of the “common struggle of Cyprus and Cuba”. In his letter to Christofias, Menendez said “you cannot claim human rights violations by Turkey in your country and then ignore such violations in Cuba. Second, you cannot call for property rights for Greek Cypriots and then deny them on Cuba. Finally, you cannot take issue with the militarization of northern Cyprus and then ignore the state security apparatus that oppresses the Cuban people.”[27][28]

On December 18, 2011, Menendez came out in support of the Respect for Marriage Act. He voted for the Defense of Marriage Act as a congressman in 1996.[29]

  Recall initiative

An effort to recall Senator Menendez was launched in early 2010 by a group of New Jersey citizens.[30] Although Article 1, Paragraph 2(b) of the New Jersey Constitution expressly authorizes such a recall,[31] state officials fought the effort in court.[32] On March 16, 2010, a State Appeals court ruled that the recall petition could go forward.[33] Menendez said he was surprised that a group claiming to be true to the Constitution is trying now, in his words, “to undermine it”.[34] Menendez appealed the ruling.[35] Legal experts have debated the constitutionality of a state recall of a federal officeholder.[36][37] On November 18, 2010, the New Jersey Supreme Court found that the New Jersey provision violated the U.S. Constitution.[38]


Posted March 3, 2012 by pennylibertygbow in Politicians

Senator Frank Lautenberg, Civil Rights Activist   2 comments

Frank Raleigh Lautenberg (pronounced /ˈlɔːtənbɜrɡ/;[2] born January 23, 1924) is the senior United States Senator from New Jersey and a member of the Democratic Party. He first served in the United States Senate from 1982 to 2001; after a brief retirement, he was re-elected to the Senate and has served since 2003. At age 88, Lautenberg is the oldest current senator. Before entering politics, he was the Chairman and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Automatic Data Processing, Inc.

Early life, career, and family

Lautenberg was born in Paterson, New Jersey, to Sam and Mollie Lautenberg, impoverished Jewish immigrants from Poland and Russia who had arrived in the United States as infants.[1] When Lautenberg was 19, his father, Sam, who worked in silk mills, sold coal, farmed and once ran a tavern, died of cancer. Frank Lautenberg had no formal Jewish education as a child; the family could not afford to join a synagogue and did not live very long in any single place.[1]

Lautenberg served overseas in the United States Army Signal Corps in World War II after graduating from Nutley High School.[3] Then, financed by the GI Bill, he attended and graduated from Columbia Business School in 1949 with a degree in economics. He was the first salesman at successful Automatic Data Processing, Inc. (ADP) and was its chairman and CEO. He was the executive commissioner of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey from 1978 to 1982.

From his first marriage to Lois Lautenberg, which ended in divorce, Lautenberg has four children: Ellen, Nan, Lisa, and Joshua. In 2001, he married his companion of nearly 16 years, Bonnie S. Englebardt. He has a summer home on Martha’s Vineyard.

 U.S. Senator

In 1982, he received the Democratic nomination over 8 other candidates for a US Senate seat from New Jersey for that year’s election after spending a considerable sum of his own money. The seat had been occupied by Democrat Harrison Williams who resigned on March 11, 1982, after being implicated in the Abscam scandal. After Williams’s resignation, Republican Governor Thomas Kean appointed Republican Nicholas F. Brady to the seat. Brady served in the Senate through the primary and general elections but did not run for the seat himself. Lautenberg won the election, defeating popular Republican congresswoman Millicent Fenwick by 52% to 48%. Brady, who had just a few days left in his appointed term, resigned on December 27, 1982, allowing Lautenberg to take office several days before the traditional swearing-in of senators, which gave him an edge in seniority over the other freshman senators.

In 1988, Lautenberg was opposed by Republican Wall Street executive and former college football star Pete Dawkins, who won the 1958 Heisman Trophy for the Army Black Knights. After trailing in early polls, the Lautenberg campaign, headed by Democratic consultant James Carville, ran an aggressive advertising campaign enumerating Lautenberg’s legislative accomplishments and raising the possibility that Dawkins’s candidacy was intended solely as a stepping stone to the presidency, as well as pointing out his lack of roots in New Jersey. Lautenberg ultimately came from behind to win reelection, 54% to 46%.

Following reelection, Lautenberg became a member of the President’s Commission on Aviation Security and Terrorism (PCAST), which was set up in September 1989 to review and report on aviation security policy in light of the sabotage of Pan Am Flight 103 on December 21, 1988.[4]

Lautenberg was again reelected in the Republican landslide year of 1994, defeating New Jersey State Assembly Speaker Chuck Haytaian by 51% to 47%. Lautenberg announced his retirement in 2000, and his fellow Democrat and businessman, Jon Corzine, was elected to replace him.

Sen. Lautenberg (center) is joined by Sen. Harry Reid (right) and outgoing Sen. Jon Corzine (second to left, with red tie) to welcome the new Senator Bob Menendez (between Corzine and Lautenberg) on Capitol Hill.

 2002 election

A little over a year after he left office, Lautenberg was called upon again to run for the Senate. This time, however, it was to replace incumbent Senator Bob Torricelli, who had won nomination for a second term in the June primary elections but was facing federal corruption charges and an uphill climb for reelection against Republican nominee Doug Forrester. The selection of Lautenberg came with some irony, as there had been notoriously bad blood between Lautenberg and Torricelli when the two had served together in the Senate.[5] It was rumored that Lautenberg was not the first choice of the Democratic Party to run, but their first choice of Bill Bradley (who had served in this particular seat until 1996, when he decided to retire) was rejected.

Almost immediately, the New Jersey Republican Party challenged the replacing of Torricelli with Lautenberg, citing that the timing was too close to the election and, per New Jersey law, the change could not be allowed. The ballot name change was unanimously upheld by the New Jersey Supreme Court,[6] who cited that the law did not provide for a situation like Torricelli’s and said that leaving Torricelli on the ballot would be an unfair advantage for Forrester, and the U.S. Supreme Court declined to take up the case. Lautenberg easily defeated Forrester in the general election, 54% to 44%, and took office for his fourth term in January 2003 and joined Hubert Humphrey in a political rarity of having served as a Senator by holding both seats in his state (Class I and Class II).

 Back in the Senate

Sen. Lautenberg meets with Associate Justice Samuel Alito prior to his confirmation hearings. Sen. Lautenberg eventually voted against the nominee.
Sen. Lautenberg (center) along with Barbara Boxer (right) and Maria Cantwell (left) at a news conference discussing whether oil executives lied during a recent Congressional testimony regarding price gouging.

Lautenberg is considered one of the Senate’s most liberal members. He is pro-choice, supports gun control, has introduced many bills increasing penalties for carjacking and car theft, and criticized the Bush administration on national security issues. He has been heavily involved in various anti-smoking, anti-alcohol and airline safety legislation. He is probably best known as the author of the legislation that banned smoking from most commercial airline flights. He also is known for authoring the Ryan White Care Act, which provides services to AIDS patients. Upon his return to the Senate, Lautenberg was the first U.S. senator to introduce legislation calling for homeland security funds to be distributed solely on the basis of risk and vulnerability.[citation needed]

In 2005, he became a leading voice within the Senate in calling for an investigation into the Bush administration payment of columnists.[7]

When Jon Corzine resigned from the Senate to become Governor of New Jersey, Lautenberg became the senior senator again in 2006. This also makes him the only person to have been both the junior and senior senator from New Jersey twice each.[citation needed] Lautenberg received an “A” on the Drum Major Institute‘s 2005 Congressional Scorecard on middle-class issues.[8]

In 2007, Lautenberg proposed the Denying Firearms and Explosives to Dangerous Terrorists Act of 2007, designed to deny weapons purchases by persons that the government has placed on the terrorist watchlist. On June 21, 2007, Lautenberg passed Clifford Case for the most votes on the Senate floor of any United States Senator in New Jersey history.

At age 88, Lautenberg is currently the oldest serving member of the Senate. He is one of only two current Senators to have returned to the Senate after having retired from the Senate, the other being Senator Dan Coats of Indiana.

Posted March 2, 2012 by pennylibertygbow in Politicians

Charles Taylor, President of Liberia   2 comments

Charles McArthur Ghankay Taylor (born 28 January 1948) was the 22nd President of Liberia, serving from 2 August 1997 until his resignation on 11 August 2003.[1]

Born in Arthington, Montserrado County, Liberia, Taylor earned a degree at Bentley College in the United States before returning to Liberia to work in the government of Samuel Doe. After being removed for embezzlement, he eventually arrived in Libya, where he was trained as a guerilla fighter. He returned to Liberia in 1989 as the head of a Libyan-backed resistance group, the National Patriotic Front of Liberia, to overthrow the Doe regime, initiating the First Liberian Civil War. Following Doe’s execution, he gained control of a large portion of the country and became one of the most prominent warlords in Africa.[2] Following a peace deal that ended the war, Taylor terrorized the population into electing him president in the 1997 general election.[3]

During his term of office, Taylor was accused of war crimes and crimes against humanity as a result of his involvement in the Sierra Leone Civil War. Domestically, opposition to his regime grew, culminating in the outbreak of the Second Liberian Civil War in 1999. By 2003, he had lost control of much of the countryside and was formally indicted by the Special Court for Sierra Leone. That year, he resigned as a result of growing international pressure and went into exile in Nigeria. In 2006, the newly elected President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf formally requested his extradition. Upon his arrival in Monrovia, he was transferred to the custody of the United Nations Mission in Liberia and immediately flown to Sierra Leone. He is currently being held in the United Nations Detention Unit on the premises of the Penitentiary Institution Haaglanden in The Hague, where he is on trial before the Special Court for Sierra Leone for his role in the civil war.[4]

  Early life

Charles McArthur Taylor was born in Arthington, a town near Monrovia, on 28 January 1948 to Nelson and Bernice Taylor. He took the name ‘Ghankay’ later on, possibly to please and gain favor with the indigenous people.[5] His mother was a member of the Gola ethnic group. According to most reports, his father was an Americo-Liberian. Taylor was a student at Bentley College in Waltham, Massachusetts, from 1972 to 1977, earning a degree in economics.

In 1979, he led a demonstration at the Liberian Mission to the United Nations in New York City, protesting then-president of Liberia William Tolbert, who was on a state visit to the U.S. at the time. Tolbert publicly debated Taylor, but when Taylor insinuated that he would seize the Liberian Mission by force, he was arrested by the New York Police Department. He was later released and invited back to Liberia by Tolbert.

Taylor supported the 12 April 1980 coup led by Samuel Doe, which saw the murder of Tolbert and seizure of power by Doe and Justin, a CPC banker. Taylor was appointed to a high position in Doe’s government in the General Services Agency of Liberia, a position that left him in charge of purchasing for the Liberian government. However, he was sacked in May 1983 for embezzling almost $1,000,000 and sending the funds to an American bank account.

Taylor fled to the United States but was arrested on 24 May 1984 by two US Deputy Marshals in Somerville, Massachusetts, on a warrant for extradition to face charges of embezzling $922,000 of government funds intended for machinery parts. Citing a fear of assassination by Liberian agents, Taylor sought to fight extradition from the safety of jail with the help of his attorney, former US Attorney General Ramsey Clark. He was detained in a House of Corrections in Plymouth, Massachusetts.

On 15 September 1985, Taylor and four other inmates allegedly escaped from the Plymouth facility, a maximum security prison, by sawing through a bar covering a window in an unused laundry room. After dropping 12 feet to the ground by means of a knotted sheet, the five inmates climbed a fence. Shortly thereafter, Taylor and two other escapees were met at nearby Jordan Hospital by Taylor’s wife, Enid, and Taylor’s sister-in-law, Lucia Holmes Toweh. A getaway car was driven to Staten Island, where Taylor then disappeared. All four of Taylor’s fellow escapees, as well as Enif and Toweh, were later apprehended.

 Civil war

Taylor managed to flee the United States and shortly thereafter it is assumed that he went to Libya, where he underwent guerrilla training under Muammar al-Gaddafi, becoming Gaddafi’s protégé.[6] Eventually, he left Libya and traveled to Côte d’Ivoire, where he founded the National Patriotic Front of Liberia (NPFL).

In December 1989, Taylor launched a Libyan-funded armed uprising from Côte d’Ivoire into Liberia to overthrow the Doe regime, leading to the First Liberian Civil War.[7] By 1990, his forces soon controlled most of the country. That same year, Prince Johnson, a senior commander of Taylor’s NPFL, broke away and formed the Independent National Patriotic Front of Liberia (INPFL). In September 1990, Johnson captured Monrovia, depriving Taylor of outright victory. Doe was captured and tortured to death by Johnson and his forces, resulting in a violent political fragmentation of the country. The civil war turned into an ethnic conflict, with seven factions fighting for control of Liberia’s resources (especially iron ore, diamonds, timber, and rubber).

According to a 2 June 1999, article in The Virginian-Pilot,[8] Taylor had extensive business dealings with American televangelist Pat Robertson during the civil war. According to the article, Taylor gave Robertson the rights to mine for diamonds in Liberia’s mineral-rich countryside. According to two Operation Blessing pilots who reported this incident to the Commonwealth of Virginia for investigation in 1994, Robertson used his Operation Blessing planes to haul diamond-mining equipment to his new mines in Liberia, despite the fact that Robertson was telling his 700 Club viewers that the planes were sending relief supplies to the victims of the genocide in Rwanda. The subsequent investigation by the Commonwealth of Virginia concluded that Robertson diverted his ministry’s donations to the Liberian diamond-mining operation, but Attorney General of Virginia Mark Earley blocked any potential prosecution against Robertson, as the relief supplies were also sent.[9]


After the official end of the civil war in 1996, Taylor ran for president in the 1997 general election. He famously campaigned on the slogan “He killed my ma, he killed my pa, but I will vote for him.” [10] The elections were overseen by the United Nations’ peacekeeping mission, United Nations Observer Mission in Liberia, along with a contingent from the Economic Community of West African States.[11] Taylor won the election in a landslide, garnering 75 percent of the vote. Taylor’s toughest competitor, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, collected only 10 percent of the vote. Taylor’s victory has been widely attributed to the belief that he would resume the war if he lost.

During his time in office, Taylor ran down the Armed Forces of Liberia, dismissing 2,400-2,600 former personnel, many of whom were ethnic Krahn brought in by former President Doe.[12] In its place, he installed the Anti-Terrorist Unit, the Special Operations Division of the Liberian National Police (LNP), which he used as his own private army.

Numerous allegations were leveled at Taylor during his presidency, particularly regarding his involvement in the Sierra Leone Civil War. He was accused of aiding the rebel Revolutionary United Front (RUF) through weapon sales in exchange for blood diamonds. Due to a UN embargo against arms sales to Liberia at the time, these weapons were largely purchased on the black market through arms smugglers such as Viktor Bout.[13] Furthermore, he was charged with aiding and abetting RUF atrocities against civilians that left many thousands dead or mutilated, with unknown numbers of people abducted and tortured. Moreover, he was accused of assisting the RUF in the recruitment of child soldiers. In addition to aiding the RUF in these acts, Taylor reportedly personally directed RUF operations in Sierra Leone.[14]

Taylor obtained spiritual and other advice from the evangelist Kilari Anand Paul.[15] As president, he was known for his flamboyant style.[16] Upon being charged by the UN of being a gunrunner and diamond smuggler during his presidency, he publicly appeared in all white robes and begged God for forgiveness, while at the same time denying the charges.[16] He was also reported to have said that “Jesus Christ was accused of being a murderer in his time.”[16]

  Rebellion and indictment

In 1999, a rebellion against Taylor began in northern Liberia, led by a group calling itself Liberians United for Reconciliation and Democracy (LURD). This group was frequently accused of atrocities, and is thought to have been backed by the government of neighboring Guinea.[17] This uprising signaled the beginning of the Second Liberian Civil War.

By early 2003, LURD had gained control of northern Liberia. That year, a second Ivorian-backed rebel group, Movement for Democracy in Liberia (MODEL), emerged in southern Liberia and achieved rapid successes.[18] By the summer, Taylor’s government controlled only about a third of Liberia: Monrovia and the central part of the country.

On 7 March 2003, the Special Court for Sierra Leone (SCSL) issued a sealed indictment for Taylor.[19] Earlier that year, Liberian forces had killed Sam Bockarie, a leading member of the RUF in Sierra Leone, in a shootout under Taylor’s orders. Some have claimed that Taylor ordered Bockarie killed in order to prevent Bockarie from testifying against him at the SCSL.[20]

In June 2003, the Prosecutor to the Special Court unsealed the indictment and announced publicly that Taylor was charged with war crimes. The indictment asserted that Taylor created and backed the RUF rebels in Sierra Leone, who were accused of a range of atrocities, including the use of child soldiers.[21] The Prosecutor also said that Taylor’s administration had harbored members of Al-Qaeda sought in connection with the 1998 bombings of U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania.[22]

The indictment was unsealed during Taylor’s official visit to Ghana, where he was participating in peace talks with MODEL and LURD officials. With the backing of the then-South African president Thabo Mbeki and against the urging of Sierra Leone president Ahmad Tejan Kabbah, Ghana declined to detain Taylor, who returned to Monrovia.


During his absence for the peace talks in Ghana, it was alleged that the American government urged Vice President Moses Blah to seize power.[23] Upon his return, Taylor briefly dismissed Blah from his post, only to reinstate him a few days later.

In July 2003, LURD initiated a siege of Monrovia, and several bloody battles were fought as Taylor’s forces halted rebel attempts to capture the city. The pressure on Taylor increased further as U.S. President George W. Bush stated that Taylor “must leave Liberia” twice that month. On 9 July, Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo offered Taylor safe exile in his country, but only if Taylor stayed out of Liberian politics.[24]

Taylor insisted that he would resign only if American peacekeeping troops were deployed to Liberia. Bush publicly called upon Taylor to resign and leave the country in order for any American involvement to be considered. Meanwhile, several African states, in particular the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) under the leadership of Nigeria, sent troops under the banner of ECOMIL to Liberia.[25] Logistical support was provided by a California company called PAE Government Services Inc., which was given a $10 million contract by the US State Department.[25] On 6 August, a 32-member U.S. military assessment team were deployed as a liaison with the ECOWAS troops.[26]

On 10 August, Taylor appeared on national television to announce that he would resign the following day and hand power to Vice President Blah. He harshly criticized the United States in his farewell address, saying that the Bush administration‘s insistence that he leave the country would hurt Liberia.[1]

On 11 August, Taylor resigned, with Blah serving as president until a transitional government was established on 14 October. At the handover were Ghanaian President John Kufuor, South African President Thabo Mbeki, and Mozambican President Joaquim Chissano, all representing African regional councils. The U.S. brought Joint Task Force Liberia‘s Amphibious Ready Group of three warships with 2,300 Marines into view of the coast. Taylor flew to Nigeria, where the Nigerian government provided houses for him and his entourage in Calabar.


In November 2003, the United States Congress passed a bill that included a reward offer of two million dollars for Taylor’s capture. While the peace agreement had guaranteed Taylor safe exile in Nigeria, it also required that he not attempt to influence Liberian politics, a requirement that his critics claimed he disregarded. On 4 December, Interpol issued a red notice regarding Taylor, suggesting that countries had a duty to arrest him. Taylor was placed on Interpol’s Most Wanted list, declaring him wanted for crimes against humanity and breaches of the 1949 Geneva Convention, and noting that he should be considered dangerous. Nigeria stated it would not submit to Interpol’s demands, agreeing only to deliver Taylor to Liberia in the event that the President of Liberia requested his return.

On 17 March 2006, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, the newly elected President of Liberia, submitted an official request to Nigeria for Taylor’s extradition. This request was granted on 25 March, whereby Nigeria agreed to release Taylor to stand trial in the Special Court for Sierra Leone. Nigeria agreed only to release Taylor and not to extradite him, as no extradition treaty existed between the two countries.

  Disappearance and arrest

Three days after Nigeria announced its intent to hand him over to Liberia, Taylor disappeared from the seaside villa where he had been living in exile.[27] One week prior to his disappearance, Nigerian authorities had taken the unusual step of allowing local press to accompany census takers into Taylor’s seaside Calabar compound.

Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo was scheduled to meet with President Bush less than 48 hours after Taylor was reported missing. Speculation ensued that Bush would refuse to meet with Obasanjo if Taylor were not apprehended. Less than 12 hours prior to the scheduled meeting between the two heads of state, Taylor was reported apprehended and en route to Liberia.

On 29 March, Taylor tried to cross the border into Cameroon through the border town of Gamboru in northeastern Nigeria. His Range Rover with Nigerian diplomatic plates was stopped by border guards, and Taylor’s identity was eventually established. State Department staff later reported that significant amounts of cash and heroin were found in the vehicle.

Upon his arrival at Roberts International Airport in Harbel, Liberia, Taylor was arrested and handcuffed by LNP officers, who then immediately transferred custody of Taylor to the United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL). Irish UNMIL soldiers then escorted Taylor aboard a UN helicopter to Freetown, Sierra Leone, where he was delivered to the SCSL.


The SCSL prosecutor originally indicted Taylor on 3 March 2003 on a 17 count indictment for war crimes and crimes against humanity committed during the conflict in Sierra Leone. On 16 March 2006, a SCSL judge gave leave to amend the indictment against Taylor. Under the amended indictment, Taylor was charged with 11 counts. At Taylor’s initial appearance before the court on 3 April 2006, he entered a plea of not guilty.[28]

In early June 2006, the decision on whether to hold Taylor’s trial in Freetown or in The Hague had not yet been made by the new SCSL president, George Gelaga King. King’s predecessor had pushed for the trial to be held abroad because of fear that a local trial would be politically destabilizing in an area where Taylor still had influence.[2] The Appeals Chamber of the Special Court dismissed a motion by Taylor’s defense team, who argued that their client could not get a fair trial there and also wanted the Special Court to withdraw the request to move the trial to The Hague.[29][30]

On 15 June 2006, the British government agreed to jail Taylor in the United Kingdom in the event that he is convicted by the SCSL. This fulfilled a condition laid down by the Dutch government, who had stated they were willing to host the trial but would not jail him if convicted. British Foreign Minister Margaret Beckett stated that new legislation would be required to accommodate this arrangement.[31] While awaiting his extradition to the Netherlands, Taylor was held in a UN jail in Freetown.[32]

On 16 June 2006, the United Nations Security Council agreed unanimously to allow Taylor to be sent to The Hague for trial; on 20 June 2006, Taylor was extradited and flown to Rotterdam Airport in the Netherlands. He was taken into custody and held in the detention centre of the International Criminal Court, located in the Scheveningen section of The Hague.[33] The Association for the Legal Defense of Charles G. Taylor was established in June 2006 to assist in his legal defense.

When Taylor’s trial opened 4 June 2007, Taylor boycotted the proceeding and was not present. Through a letter which was read by his attorney to the court, he justified his absence by alleging that at that moment he was not ensured a fair and impartial trial.[34]

On 20 August 2007, Taylor’s defense now led by Courtenay Griffiths obtained a postponement of the trial until 7 January 2008.[35] During the trial, the chief prosecutor alleged that a key insider witness who testified against Taylor went into hiding after being threatened for giving evidence against Taylor.[36] Furthermore, Joseph “Zigzag” Marzah, a former military commander, testified that Charles Taylor celebrated his new-found status during the civil war by ordering human sacrifice, including the killings of Taylor’s opponents and allies that were perceived to have betrayed Taylor, and by having a pregnant woman buried alive in sand.[37] Marzah also accused Taylor of forcing cannibalism on his soldiers in order to terrorize their enemies.[38]

In January 2009, the prosecution finished presenting its evidence against Taylor and closed its case on 27 February 2009. On 4 May 2009, a defense motion for a judgment on acquittal was dismissed, and arguments for Taylor’s defense began in July 2009.[39] Taylor testified in his own defense from July through November 2009.[40] The defense rested its case on 12 November 2010, with closing arguments set for early February 2011.[41]

On 8 February 2011, the trial court ruled in a 2-1 decision that it would not accept Taylor’s trial summary, as the summary had not been submitted by the January 14 deadline. In response, Taylor and his counsel boycotted the trial and refused an order by the court to begin closing arguments. This boycott came soon after the 2010 leak of American diplomatic cables by WikiLeaks, in which the United States discussed the possibility of extraditing Taylor for prosecution in the United States in the event of his acquittal by the SCSL. Taylor’s counsel cited the leaked cable and the court’s decision as evidence of an international conspiracy against Taylor.[42]

On March 3, the appeals court of the SCSL overturned the trial court’s decision, ruling that as the trial court had not established that Taylor had been counseled by the court and personally indicated his intent to waive his right to a trial summary, Taylor’s due process rights would be violated by preventing him from submitting a trial summary. The appeals court ordered the trial court to accept the summary and set a date for the beginning of closing arguments.[43] On March 11, 2011, the closing arguments ended and it was announced that the court would reach a verdict months later.[44]


In 1997, Taylor married Jewel Taylor, with whom he has one son. She filed for divorce in 2005, citing her husband’s exile in Nigeria and the difficulty of visiting him due to a UN travel ban on her.[45] The divorce was granted in 2006. Jewel Taylor currently serves as the senior senator from Bong County.

Phillip Taylor, Taylor’s son with Jewel, remained in Liberia following his father’s extradition to the SCSL. He was arrested by Liberian police officials on 5 March 2011 and charged with attempted murder in connection with an assault on the son of an immigration officer who had assisted in Charles Taylor’s extradition. At the time of his arrest, he had been attempting to cross the border into Côte d’Ivoire.[46]

Taylor has another son, a U.S. citizen named Charles McArther Emmanuel, born to his college girlfriend. Emmanuel was arrested in 2006 after entering the US and was charged with three counts, including participation in torture while serving in the Anti-Terrorist Unit in Liberia during his father’s presidency. The law that prosecuted Taylor was put in place in 1994, before “extraordinary rendition” in an attempt to prevent US citizens from committing acts of torture overseas. To date, this is the only prosecuted case.[47] In October 2008, Emmanuel was convicted on all three counts and sentenced to 97 years in prison.[

Posted March 2, 2012 by pennylibertygbow in Politicians