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Tuesday, 8 May, 2001, 10:28 GMT 11:28 UK
Thabo Mbeki: Is he losing his touch?
Thabo Mbeki
The African National Congress is in turmoil over allegations that three top members have been plotting to oust Thabo Mbeki.

Some say the claims are nonsense and simply show the president's paranoia and lack of judgement.

President Mbeki has also been accused of having an autocratic, arrogant style of leadership, and dangerous views on HIV/Aids.

What do you think? Is Thabo Mbeki a disappointment? Or is he doing a good job in tough circumstances?

This Talking Point has now closed. Read a selection of your comments below.

A leader who cannot handle criticism is already taking the first tentative steps towards totalitarianism

Mark CJ, South African in London
A leader who cannot handle criticism is already taking the first tentative steps towards totalitarianism. Mbeki has done much for South Africa but there are too many cracks in his policies through which large chunks of the society fall. Crime is still a problem, corruption is rampant and there has been no real redistribution of wealth. Time for a real solution instead of the same slaves/ different masters solution that was opted for in 1994.
Mark CJ, South African in London

Is anyone aware that when Mandela was President, it was Mbeki who was actually running the country behind the scenes? So, I can't really understand when people heap blame on him for issues regarding governance. He might not be a statesman of Mandela's stature, but this does not disqualify him as a leader.
Maish, Kenyan in South Africa

SA is a democratic country which means in time of crisis there are certain procedures to follow. A true test of South African democracy would be the ability to handle a crisis in accordance with the law. President Mbeki is the people's choice and only they can decide whether they are contented with his term of office or not.
Awah Callistus, Cameroonian student in Germany

President Mbeki has unfortunately been unable to live up to the expectations which were placed on him when he was elected. Many people saw him as someone who could build on the foundations of Mandela, the delivery of service which was required in the country. The three 'plotters' identified by the security services in the country are men of great calibre and I would be proud to see any of them as my president.
Andrew, UK/ South Africa

Thabo Mbeki, the elected people's president has done a good job, for both South Africa and the continent as a whole. Therefore, I salute him and consider him the true son of Africa. Long live the President!
Boyie Sabelo Dlamini, Swaziland

I think President Mbeki of South Africa has done a good job.
Shomer Rogers, Denmark

Mbeki has done a superb job in running South Africa

Warren, USA
Mbeki has done a superb job in running South Africa. The economy is thriving, interest rates are low and job creation is gathering momentum. The West is angry with him for taking a balanced approach towards Zimbabwe and has used his open-minded views on Aids to undermine his stature to cultivate ambitions within the ANC.
Warren, USA

Being a South African who has left the country of his birth I can only say this of my president... I hang my head in shame.
Ralf Duken, UK

President Thabo Mbeki has taken South Africa to the highest mountain than any other leader in the continent. Since he became president, the role of our women in society's matters has improved, the economy is growing and international and local investors are confident in the country's future.
Juda Dagane, South Africa

Walking in Mandela's shadow is not easy

Angelica, South Africa
Walking in Mandela's shadow is not easy. Thabo Mbeki is doing a good job despite the circumstances. He has worked hard to try and eliminate the imbalance that existed in South Africa for a long time. The only people who have a problem with that are those for whom the scales have tipped in the opposite direction.
Angelica, South Africa

Mbeki will face difficulties in governing RSA because he took power from somebody who is regarded as a hero. People expect Thabo to be like Mandela which is not possible at all. What the RSA people should do is to hold their patience and give Thabo time until he winds up his term of leadership.
Moses Kambala, USA/ Malawi

Treading the line between running a capitalist liberal state and keeping in touch with an increasingly disillusioned electorate is a formidable task. Mbeki does not have the luxury of effective dictatorship that Mandela's popularity afforded him but he has done pretty much as good a job as could be expected.
Toby, Botswana

Mbeki has failed to address South Africa's key problems

Dee, South African in the UK
Mbeki has failed to address South Africa's key problems of unemployment, crime and lack of foreign investment. He approved several mass prisoner releases (12,000 last year) instead clamping down on criminals. Few South Africans have not been personally affected by the death of a family member, friend or colleague from violent crime, housebreaking, rape or car hi-jacking. Will Mbeki lead South Africa down the well trodden path of corruption, anarchy and intolerance or will he have the leadership to nurture the fragile new democracy and allow it to develop into the Rainbow Nation which brought so much hope?
Dee, South African in the UK

On the whole South Africa has fared well in shedding off the economic efficiencies of the past to set the country on the path of international competitiveness. A formidable achievement indeed looking back at five years ago. Like all countries, South Africa is besieged with problems but South Africans should focus more on creative ways of contributing to the development of their country as opposed to thinking on the most effective way of moaning and groaning all the time.
Bhimal Bapoo, South Africa

Mr Mbeki is the democratically elected president of South Africa. He has no cause to fear if he has the support of the majority of the people of South Africa. For those who it is alleged are plotting to oust him, I advise they must do so only through the ballot box so that peace and tranquillity can prevail.
Thomas Beer, USA/ Liberia

I am a South African living in London and go home once a year to see my family. I can honestly say that all that Nelson Mandela stood for and hoped for, Thabo Mbeki has managed to destroy. He is completely out of touch with the people of his country, both white and black. I believe that since he came into power the country has become non-economical, there is no development and it has become a very violent and disruptive place to live, far from the promised "Rainbow Nation" that we all hoped for. The sooner Thabo Mbeki leaves his seat of power, the better for all concerned, otherwise I can see another "Zimbabwe" in sight. We all know what a "mess-up" Mugabe has done, do we want that for South Africa? I pray not!
Joanne T, UK

The endemic corruption and mismanagement have already had an effect on the nation's infrastructure

Mark, Sweden
I have spent a lot of time in Africa in general, and South Africa in particular and I'm afraid the signs of decay are clear to see. The endemic corruption and mismanagement have already had an effect on the nation's infrastructure. South Africa has no natural enemies, so why the big arms deal? The reason is that it's an earner, particularly for those who are "administering" it.
Mark, Sweden

Thabo Mbeki, in his short tenure as president, has undone much of what Nelson Mandela did for the country. The feel-good factor has all but been erased, and, to be perfectly fair, I would welcome it if someone of Cyril Ramphosa's calibre occupied the hotseat.
Anton Nebbe, South Africa

As a young South African, I am dismayed at President Mbeki's inability to handle criticism of any form. Paranoia and the inability to admit he is wrong (HIV/ Aids, Zimbabwe crisis, arms deals etc) is destroying his reputation both at home and abroad and ultimately harming South Africa's in the process. The ANC and Mbeki need to realise the difference between party and state. We need a strong leader and we need him soon.
Alasdair McCall, South Africa, Kwa-Zulu Natal

The answer is simple: President Mbeki is not doing a good job running the country. I am a South African citizen who went to the USA during the Mandela era to study, and my intention was to go back, start my own business and play a part in building the country. But President Mbeki's soft approach towards Zimbabwe created the impression that the business that I want to start, could be "nationalised" somewhere along the line. The argument could be put forward that such actions are prevented by the constitution, but Zimbabwe has shown that a constitution does count for much. Mbeki's soft approach could, therefore, be viewed as "silent agreement" which deters every possible investor.
Sean Allen, South African in USA

Mbeki is doing a tremendous job

Thomas Nyongesa, USA/ Kenya
Mbeki is doing a tremendous job. He has gone one further than Mandela by addressing the needs of the majority instead of pandering to minority interests and misplaced fears. Healthy competition in the ruling party is a welcome development. Under such circumstances there is little room for complacency. This is a normal thing and need not be blown out of proportion or discouraged.
Thomas Nyongesa, USA/ Kenya

Mr Mbeki is refusing to deal with those issues which affect the people of South Africa the most - Aids and crime. Until the basic safety of South Africans is assured, all his involvement in the international arena as an aspiring "Statesman" is a waste of his time and the country's money.
Werner Zepp, USA

I was in Johannesburg for 3 months late last year and whilst I was there the local elections were taking place. Not only was I amazed by the techniques that were used by the various parties, I was also amazed that President Mbeki had nothing to say but to slag off British and American politicians. Yes, I think that his party is certainly on his case - he has no real experience in politics and he does not keep his personal views of other people to himself. He is certainly watching his back and he needs to for the moment at least.
Joseph Gare, UK

President Mbeki has ruled for only two years but has been able to win the respect of many people in Africa and the world. Stepping into Mandela's shoes was a big challenge but he has done his best to do his duty for God and his country. Paranoia or no paranoia, Thabo Mbeki still remains a son worthy of Africa.
Elison, UK

The people are tired of empty promises

Tonny Omutsani, USA
When Mandela set a great precedent by refusing to perpetuate his tenure, he hand-picked Mbeki. Even though Mbek was qualified, his regime was bedevilled by controversy from the outset. With a sizeable number of people wallowing in abject poverty, he has continued to emulate other deplorable dictators on the continent by rewarding cronies and abating corruption whilst punishing and isolating those who dissent from his abominable views. The pepole are tired of empty promises and the recent municipal elections are a testament to the growing disdain for the incumbent. Mbeki ought to emulate the elder statesman and save the ANC for a premature death at the next poll.
Tonny Omutsani, USA

Phosa, Sexwale and Ramaphosa still bear inner resentment since Mbeki outmanoeuvred them in the bid to impress Mandela. Now they have a chance of getting back at him and naturally, if I was Mbeki, I too would be paranoid. In any case, Mbeki is an extremely intelligent man, a formidable Africanist, non-comformist, independent thinker (it is a shame that people are threatened by alternative points of view). Indeed, he has been working under very difficult circumstances. It has been only two years, lets give him space for God's sake!
Curtis, Tanzania

It would be a shame if the ANC tosses away the democracy they fought so hard to get. It would be all for nothing, merely the replacing of a white cabal with a black one.
Tom Byrne, USA

Mbeki has a mandate to rule South Africa until the ANC hold the party convention. What is taking place is testing his ability to handle dissent within the party. Unlike his predecessor he lacks charisma and maybe vision. What he has to remind his opponents is that the time is not yet ripe for a change but he will do his best to diffuse controversial issues like the Aids policy.
Eddie Namukhono, Canada

He seems to be fast taking a country with fantastic potential down to the tragic level of the rest of southern Africa. With the exception of Madela, African leaders time and again badly let down their long-suffering citizens.
Paul, UK

See also:

26 Apr 01 | Africa
Top ANC men deny 'plot'
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