Thabo Mbeki to be our man in volatile region
Former president Thabo Mbeki is to become SA's envoy to the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and the Great Lakes region.
Khusela Diko, spokesperson for President Cyril Ramaphosa, yesterday confirmed the appointment.
The Sunday Times understands that it took a great deal to convince Mbeki to accept the position to the volatile Lakes region and to the DRC, where elections are long overdue.There were fears that Congolese President Joseph Kabila would stand for re-election, but he recently announced that he would not.
Well-placed insiders said talks with Mbeki had been going on for weeks to convince him to accept.
The appointment is part of international relations & co-operation minister Lindiwe Sisulu's attempts to reposition SA as a leader and key mediator on regional and continental affairs.
"We are trying to reclaim our leadership position on the continent, which is why we have identified the former president and other influential elders to assist in this mission," said a senior government official who has close knowledge of the talks.International relations spokesperson Ndivhuwo Mabaya confirmed that talks had been held with Mbeki, but said the final decision would be made by Ramaphosa.
Those with knowledge of the talks said Mbeki had been opposed to the idea when he was first approached by Sisulu some months ago.
The sources said that Mbeki had not been keen to work with Sisulu, who he viewed as part of a group that was central to his defeat as ANC president at the party's elective conference in Polokwane in 2007.
That defeat also led to him stepping down as the country's president in 2008.
STANDING FOR ELECTION
However, after concerted attempts, including an intervention by Ramaphosa, Mbeki is said to have agreed. His mission will include liaising with Kabila, and those who are standing for election, to iron out any issues they might have before the poll on December 23.
Ramaphosa visited Mbeki at his home in Killarney two weeks ago. They discussed the issue and reached an agreement.
Thami Ntenteni of the Thabo Mbeki Foundation refused to comment...