Thabo Mbeki, born Thabo Mvuyelwa Mbeki, is a respected political figure elected as the second president of South Africa in 1999. His tenure began on June 16, 1999, and ended on September 24, 2008. Considered one of the best political heads to have served South Africa after the apartheid regime, Thabo Mbeki’s net worth is estimated at $10 million, making him one of the richest politicians in the country. The Mbewuleni, Cape Province-born political figure’s impact goes beyond South Africa; he was equally a giant in the international community and a force other politicians reckoned with.
Thabo Mbeki Occupies A Comfortable Position On The List Of Richest Politicians In South Africa
South Africa has many rich politicians, and most of them practically rose to enviable heights in their financial state, mostly through their business dealings. However, some have their political connections to thank for it. The Rainbow Nation boasts over 10 politicians with jaw-dropping net worth; former president Jacob Zuma, Saki Macozoma, president Cyril Ramaphosa, businessman Tokyo Sexwale, and Herman Mashaba make up this list.
Considering his wealth of investment in his career, it is not surprising that former president Thabo Mbeki’s net worth places him as one of South Africa’s richest politicians. The respected politician began showing signs of greatness from a very young age. He grew to know and work with prominent people and organizations within and outside of the political world. He literally became one of the richest politicians in South Africa through a dint of hard work.
Through the political services he rendered both for his party, South Africa, and Africa at large over the years, Mbeki acquired his wealth through his own effort. As of this writing, his net worth is estimated at $10 million. The figure places himself below the likes of Jacob Zuma, Cyril Ramaphosa, Herman Mashaba, Tokyo Sexwale, and above Pravin Gordhan, Mamphela Ramphela, both of which have a combined net worth of $10.5 million. For the record, Mbeki shares the same spot with South African former senator Bulelani Ngcuka who served as the National Director of Public Prosecutions between 1999 and 2004.
He Rose To The Millionaire Status Through Sheer Hardwork
The son of Govan Mbeki (father) and Epainette Mbeki (mother), Thabo Mbeki wasn’t raised in the wealthiest home. He was born into the struggle as his parents were anti-apartheid activists who devoted their lives to the liberation course. So, he didn’t become a millionaire through inheritance; he literally worked for it starting from the days of his youth. The only known source of Mbeki’s wealth is his illustrious political career, which he started devoting his time and life to at the age of fourteen.
Regardless of his political height and status in society, no business ties have been openly linked to him. There are no reports yet about the former president owning a business company, having stakes, or any form of interest in any local or foreign firm. It is believed that he majorly built his wealth through his political roles.
Thabo has occupied several political offices in the country, starting from his youth days in the ruling party, African National Congress (ANC). Although the actual amounts he was paid when he served in these capacities are not officially publicized, there’s no doubt the figures were befitting.
What Political Office Did The Former President Earn The Most From?
It is difficult to tell the exact political office that the former president earned the most. However, it would be fair to mention that most people believe that his time as the president of South Africa saw him make more money as a politician. While Mbeki hasn’t confirmed this himself, it is worth mentioning that the president’s office is the highest political office in South Africa. As such, it comes with a massive salary and probably allowances and entitlements.
Some of the offices Thabo Mbeki has occupied in his career include the following:
- Secretary of the African Students’ Association (December 1961)
- Secretary of a high-level SACP delegation to the International Conference of Communist and Workers Parties in Moscow (June 1969)
- Assistant secretary of the ANC’s Revolutionary Council (RC) in Lusaka (April 1971)
- Head of the ANC’s information department (1984)
- Head of the ANC international department (1989)
- Deputy President of South Africa (May 1994) on the attainment of universal suffrage (Right To Vote)
- Sole Deputy President (June 1996).
- ANC president (December 1997)
- President of South Africa (June 1999)
- President of South Africa for the second time (April 2004).
As mentioned earlier, Thabo’s salaries when he assumed his first political position in the ANC until he was the country’s deputy president are not open to public scrutiny. However, we can establish that the former president earned R1.1 million per year when he resigned from his position in 2008.
Summary of Major Political Offices Thabo Mbeki Has Occupied
Second President of South Africa
- Tenure: June 16, 1999 – September 24, 2008
- Deputy: Jacob Zuma
- Preceded by: Nelson Mandela
- Succeeded by: Kgalema Motlanthe
Twelfth President of the African National Congress
- Tenure: 20 December 1997 – 18 December 2007
- Preceded by: Nelson Mandela
- Succeeded by: Jacob Zuma
Sixth Deputy President of the African National Congress
- Tenure: 10 May 1994 – 20 December 1997
- President: Nelson Mandela
- Preceded by: Kgalema Motlanthe
- Succeeded by: Jacob Zuma
First Deputy President of South Africa
- Tenure: 10 May 1994 – 14 June 1999. Serving with F. W. de Klerk until 30 June 1996
- President: Nelson Mandela
- Preceded by: Office established
- Succeeded by: Jacob Zuma
Member of the National Assembly of South Africa
- Tenure: 1994 -1997
- Constituency: Eastern Cape
Thabo Mbeki’s Current Source Of Income Is Unknown
While Thabo Mbeki’s net worth is already public knowledge, the former SA President hasn’t specifically mentioned his sources of income since he left office in 2008. However, it is known that former presidents and their spouses enjoy state-funded benefits and perks after leaving offices, such as guaranteed salary for life, security detail, and other benefits. The Thabo Mbeki Foundation, Thabo Mbeki African Leadership Institute, an institute of the University of South Africa in partnership with the Thabo Mbeki Foundation, and the Thabo Mbeki Presidential Library enjoy the patronages of the former president. However, it is unknown if he makes any form of benefit from them.
Mbeki currently does not have any other known business or investment from which he makes money. It could be that he is not interested in business (as widely believed) or decided to keep a low profile on these businesses or investments.
He is Considered One Of ANC’s Most Successful Diplomats
Thabo Mbeki was one of those who raised the diplomatic profile of the ANC. He met several African and foreign governments and international organizations and was extremely successful as a diplomat. Mbeki’s diplomacy career began in the early 1960s when he started traveling to Botswana and Tanzania. He has learned a lot from political figures such as Kenneth Kaunda and Oliver Tambo, who was his greatest mentor.
"There is not enough rain in the sky, for us to be able to shower on him the honour he deserves."
– Nelson Mandela#OliverTambo
© Oliver Tambo | Have You Heard From Johannesburg pic.twitter.com/nBjnt0zGHc
— Tambo Foundation (@TamboFoundation) April 24, 2021
Generally, he did well as a diplomat. He was eloquent, pragmatic, urbane, and rational. He served London for the ANC starting from October 1966. It was during this period that he met his wife, Zanele. He equally served in Lusaka as the assistant secretary of the ANC’s Revolutionary Council (RC), precisely in April 1971.
Mbeki moved to Botswana in 1973 to serve as ANC’s facilitator of an internal underground, and he did an amazing job as well. His next stop was at Swaziland, where he was saddled with the responsibility of setting up an ANC frontline base in the country. He successfully recruited hundreds of people into the ANC, including many members of the Black Consciousness Movement (BCM) adherents.
“Thabo Mbeki to help ANC in KZN work on its 'challenges'”: https://t.co/OQVMDJdeG6
— Thabo Mbeki Foundation (@TMFoundation_) February 17, 2020
The anti-apartheid activist was subsequently posted to Nigeria in January 1977 with the mandate to establish diplomatic relations with then Nigerian president Olusegun Obasanjo’s government. His mission in Nigeria was successful, and he also built a solid and lasting relationship with the Nigerian authorities, eclipsing the Pan Africanist Congress (PAC) in the West African country.
Thereafter, Thabo Mbeki was sent to Salisbury (now Harare) Zimbabwe in 1980 after Robert Mugabe became the Prime Minister of Zimbabwe. He left the country for Lusaka, Zambia, and handed over leadership of the ANC in Zimbabwe to Chris Hani, who was later assassinated in his home. His career as a diplomat was outstanding and generally successful. Unfortunately, there is no reliable information detailing how his diplomacy career contributed to his net worth overall.
Thabo Mbeki Married His Wife, Zanele, in 1974
Thabo Mbeki and his wife, Zanele Mbeki, got married on 23rd November 1974 in London. Their paths first crossed at the University of London, where they both studied Economics. Zanele (nee Dlamini) was born on 18th November 1938, in Alexandra, Gauteng, South Africa. She and her husband have often lived apart. She is the daughter of a dressmaker and a Methodist priest. Raised in South Africa, Mbeki’s wife grew up alongside her five sisters.
Zanele studied at Catholic Inkamana Academy in KwaZulu-Natal and later the University of the Witwatersrand, where she studied to be a social worker. She worked in Zambia for Anglo American plc as a caseworker for three years, after which she relocated to London. While in London, she gained admission at the London School of Economics in 1968 to study social policy and administration. She obtained a diploma upon completing her studies and later won a scholarship to do her Ph.D. on the position of African women under apartheid at Brandeis University in the United States.
Mrs. Mbeki has worked at various prominent places, including Marlborough Day Hospital and Guy’s Hospital, where she worked as a psychiatric social worker. She invested her wealth of experience at the International University Education Fund in Lusaka, Zambia, for many years. However, she resigned in 1980. She served as the first lady of South Africa from June 14, 1999, to September 24, 2008. During her husband’s regime, Zanele spearheaded many programs targeted at helping women become relevant in society, including the 2003 South African Women in Dialogue program.
Zanele Mbeki is a well-known advocate for women’s rights and a vocal feminist. She is also a supportive woman who has continually stood by her husband over the years. During her husband’s campaign, she was always by his side, which is common among politicians’ spouses. Again, she was known for always refusing to grant the media and journalists interviews.
The Anti-Apartheid Activist And His Wife Have No Kids
Thabo Mbeki and his wife, Zanele Mbeki, are yet to give birth to their own children. Nevertheless, Thabo Mbeki once had a son. He had the child at the age of 16 with a woman called Olive Mpahlwa. She was actually underaged when she became pregnant for the former president. Mbeki’s son, Monwabise Kwanda Mpahlwa, was born in 1959, in Butterworth, Eastern Cape.
Mnwabisi Kwanda Mbeki, Thabo Mbeki's son. He is reported to have disappeared in 1981. pic.twitter.com/MIQCee9JQv
— tshepOlesOle. (@tshepOlesOle) August 31, 2013
Things took a turn for the worse the first time for the Mbeki family in 1981 when Kwanda suddenly disappeared with Thabo’s younger brother Jama. Unfortunately, he was killed while trying to leave South Africa to join his father in Swaziland, where he was in exile. With Thabo Mbeki’s huge net worth, no one knows the possible heir to his wealth as he hasn’t mentioned or introduced anyone as his successor.
Lesser-Known Facts About Thabo Mbeki’s Son
- He lived with his mother’s family until the age of ten, after which he moved in with his paternal grandmother Epainette Mbeki (known as Ma Mofokeng).
- Monwabise stayed with Ma Epainette until he completed high school and passed matric.
- He is presumed to have been murdered by South African authorities.
- The last place he disclosed he was before his tragic death was Durban.
- Mbeki’s son went into exile in 1976 with one of his father’s old comrades called Phindile Mfeti, who informed him that his father was in exile in Swaziland.
- His murder has been a subject of international interest.
- His parents found out at the Truth Reconciliation Committee (RTC) that their son was seen alive for the last time at the ANC military base in Tanzania. In fact, it is assumed that the Apartheid government’s forces killed the young man and Mbeki’s old friend Phindile. The gathering was held in 1998.