Johannesburg - Finance Minister Trevor Manuel is among 11 Cabinet ministers and three deputy ministers who have resigned.
Their letters of resignation had been received by President Thabo Mbeki "which, regretfully, he has had to accept", the presidency said in a statement on Tuesday.
They included Deputy President Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, who earlier in the day announced her resignation from the position, to which she was appointed after ANC president Jacob Zuma was released from his responsibilities as deputy president in 2005. One of the reasons she gave was to allow a new president the opportunity to choose their own deputy.
The other resignations were of the Ministers of: Defence, Mosiuoa Lekota; Minister in the Presidency Essop Pahad; Intelligence, Ronnie Kasrils; Correctional Services Ngconde Balfour; Public Enterprises, Alec Erwin; Science and Technology, Mosibudi Mangena; Public Works, Thoko Didiza; Provincial and Local Government, Sydney Mufamadi; and Public Service and Administration Geraldine Fraser-Moleketi.
"The resignations will be effective from the day that the president's resignation takes effect [Thursday]," the presidency said.
"All the ministers have expressed their availability to assist the incoming administration in the hand-over process and any other assistance that might be sought from them.
"President Mbeki thanked the deputy president, the ministers and the deputy ministers for their dedicated service to the nation and wished them well in their future endeavours," it said.
I can’t say that I am overly surprised by this news. Nor am I terribly vexed by it either. I am disappointed that Manto has not added her name to the list, but I guess she still has some more vegetables to peddle. But, we are rid of Big Ears Erwin *happy dance*
Where does this leave us as a country?
Mothlanthe will need to appoint new ministers into those positions, and will need to do so soon to avoid major upheaval. The news of Manual’s resignation did dent the Rand’s strength a fair bit, and it may have a further economic impact – but we will need to wait and see.
I suspect there is some strategy involved from the Mbeki camp, as this weakens the Zuma camp tremendously. There is also talk of the ANC splintering, and possibly a new party being born.
Either way, Mothlanthe was, apparently, appointed only as interim president, which means they have to call an election within 120 days - meaning we will go to the polls end of January. The ANC is by no means ready for this, and will affect them negatively in the upcoming elections.
The most important thing now is to stay calm, and see what our government does. I can only hope that the opposition parties can unite in some way before the elections to form a single, strong opposition to provide some kind of alternative to the obviously flailing ANC.