Kgalema Motlanthe to be Deputy President

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Pretoria - Former President Kgalema Motlanthe has been announced as the country's new Deputy President.

"The Deputy President of the Republic of South Africa will be Mr Kgalema Petros Motlanthe," announced President Jacob Zuma at the Union Buildings a short while ago.

Mr Motlanthe, who has been South Africa's caretaker President for the last eight months, will take over from Baleka Mbete who has left government and will be deployed to the African National Congress' headquarters in Johannesburg.

Following the recall of Thabo Mbeki as President last year, Mr Motlanthe stepped in as a caretaker President in September and held the fort until the end of that government's term and the 22 April General Elections.

Mr Motlanthe, who is also the Deputy President of the ANC, did not make many changes in government during his tenure and he kept his Cabinet largely the same.

In his first address to the nation following the inauguration ceremony on Saturday, President Zuma thanked Mr Motlanthe for bringing about calm, stability and certainty during a period of great anxiety in the country.

"He has led us in a very capable manner and the transition has become remarkably smooth and well managed. On behalf of the nation, let me express our sincerest gratitude to President Motlanthe for patriotic service to the nation," he said at the time.

In May 2008, he became a Member of Parliament and in July he was appointed to the Cabinet by Thabo Mbeki as Minister without Portfolio.

Mr Motlanthe's involvement in the South African liberation struggle dates to the 1970s. In 1976, he was arrested for furthering the aims of the ANC and was kept in detention for 11 months at John Vorster Square in Johannesburg.

In 1977, he was found guilty of three charges under the Terrorism Act and sentenced to 10 years imprisonment on Robben Island.

Shortly after his release in 1987, he was elected Secretary-General of the National Union of Mineworkers.

In 1992, the Central Executive Committee elected him acting General Secretary and in 1997 he was elected Secretary-General of the ANC, replacing Cyril Ramaphosa.