September 30, 2004

President says he will not rule after 2009

President Thabo Mbeki has taken a sarcastic swipe at the media over speculation about his successor, but confirmed that he would not be president after elections in 2009. Mbeki for the first time categorically said he would not serve a third term, although he had alluded to this during his state of the nation address in May. He said in media speculation about his successor, "two predictions were true". The first was that in 2007 the African National Congress would hold its next national conference at which it would elect the party leadership, including its president. "The second is that our country will hold its next general elections in 2009, which will also mark the moment when Thabo Mbeki will have to relinquish his position as president of the republic, as stipulated by our national constitution," Mbeki said.
Using a weekend newspaper report that highlighted the lack of basic services in Free State, the president said the problems were a "critical part of the challenges of our government today, especially local government". He urged all arms of government to work as a team and said Salga had a responsibility to ensure harmony between community development workers, elected public representatives, municipal officials and ward committees. "The last thing we need is unnecessary competition and tension among government workers, whose collaboration should clearly ensure better, efficient and effective delivery of services to all our people." The elected representatives of local government should work with politicians in national and provincial spheres to implement the government-wide plan of action. He said the key challenges facing local government were service delivery and its response to local communities. Local government had to respond to communities as it was the sphere of government "closest to the people". (Bua News, Pretoria)

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