Thabo Mbeki

Unless it is not the list of south Africans that have worked hard for the freedom of the country and its sustenance that one is drawing, Thabo Mbeki should appear somewhere on the good side of the page.

Thabo Mbeki Biography

Thabo Mbeki was born in South Africa’s Mbewuleni, Idutywa, in 1942, as Thabo Mvuyelwa Mbeki. It was in this area where he was born that he was raised as the second child in a family of four children.

Mbeki had his primary education in Idutywa and Butterworth. His high school education was gotten at Lovalde, college. He however couldn’t finish as he was expelled for leading a protest against the expulsion of some students. This forced him to sit for his matriculation exams at St. Johns high School in 1959.

By 1962, he had gotten a Bachelor of Economics degree from the University of London, and by 1966, he had a masters in Economics from the Sussex University.

As a result of his father’s involvement in anti apartheid activities, Thabo Mbeki got into the South African struggle quite early. He started at the age of 14 when he joined the African National Congress (ANC) Youth League. This was in 1956. By 1962, Mbeki and others had to flee the country after the banning of ANC.

At the age of 16, Mbeki had a child out of wedlock. The child disappeared with Mbeki’s younger brother in 1982.

In 1974, he got married to Zanele Dlamini. The couple has not had any child.

The Struggle

It was as a student in London that Thabo Mbeki began drawing international consciousness against apartheid in South Africa. He as well pushed that the international community rejected South African goods, liking the apartheid government to Germany’s Nazi regime.

Consequent to the arrest of some members of ANC in 1963 one of whom was his father, Thabo approached the United Nation’s special committee against apartheid to plead for the life of his father. In 1964 his father and others were found guilty and expected to be sentenced to death.  He immediately led a march of students to meet the UK prime minister and deliver a petition signed by over 660 students and staff of the Sussex University where he was schooling. This turned out positive as the lives of the ANC members were spared.

For years until the end of apartheid, Thabo Mbeki would continue as the voice drawing support against apartheid in South Africa. This would take him to different countries of the world. He had gone to countries including United States of America where he sought for the support of corporate organizations, England, Nigeria, Zimbabwe, and Swaziland.

In the cause of the struggle against apartheid, Mbeki had had to go on exile for 28 years, through which he remained forcefully in contact and playing a part in all happening in the country.

Politics and Presidency

By his involvement in the anti apartheid struggle as well as activities with the ANC, it is hard to say Mbeki had not always been in politics.

As it regards offices however, Mbeki had held important offices in the politics of ANC during the struggle against apartheid. One of such positions is the head of the party’s International department which saw him report directly to the ANC president, Oliver Tambo.

Beyond the party, the force that he was became more crystal when he became the country’s first black vice president at the end of the apartheid government. His political journey climaxed when he succeeded Nelson Mandela as president in 1999. He was reelected in 2004; however he was made to resign in 2008.

Thabo Mbeki was made to resign after a High Court judge alleged interference in Jacob Zuma’s corruption case. Zuma was Mbeki’s deputy who was forced out of office by Mbeki as a result of allegations of corruption as well as the conviction of his close ally in 2005 for fraud.


The biggest failure of Mbeki was as regards the fight against HIV/ AIDS. As a president, Mbeki showed little knowledge to the deadly virus ravaging the country and even less care towards fighting it. This has caused the death of close to 300 thousand South Africans.

He was as well criticized for not taking a hard stance against Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe. This was as regards Zimbabwe’s failing economy, state attacks on opposition, as well as interference in the activities of the judiciary and suppression of the press.

Electricity crisis in the country in 2008, growing crime, as well as the country’s Xenophobic attacks in 2008, attracted condemnations both from within the country as well as from the international community. The xenophobic attacks were as a result of rising unemployment in the country, which was seen as the undoing of Mbeki’s government.

Thabo Mbeki Foundation

Thabo Mbeki Foundation (TMF) was started by Mbeki in 2008 to serve as a driving force behind the achievement of African renaissance.

The foundation runs the Thabo Mbeki African Leadership Institute (TMALI), which has trained over 1500 Africans since 2010; African Centre for Conflict Management (ACCM), which centers on peace building and post-conflict reconstruction and development on the African Continent; and Thabo Mbeki Presidential Library. The foundation runs other programmes as well.

Mbeki has won various awards such as the, Thabo Mbeki receives the Oliver Tambo/ Johnny Makatini Freedom Award. (2000) and Daily Trust African of the Year (2012)


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