3. Thabo Mbeki

Thabo Mbeki is the most important African political figure of his generation. A pan-African philosopher-king, he dominated South African politics for 14 years as deputy president (1994-1999) and then president (1999-2008) of the country. During two decades spent in exile in several African countries, he played a key role in the ANC’s anti-apartheid struggle. Though the years of transition in South Africa, he helped build one of the world’s most respected constitutional democracies. As a deputy president and then president, he sought to tackle South Africa’s inherited socio-economic problems, which he did with some successes, though his disastrous AIDS policy will remain a major blemish. He will be remembered more as a foreign policy president, for his peacemaking efforts in Africa and for building continental institutions such as the African Union and NEPAD. This book seeks to rescue Mbeki from the parochialism of South African perspectives and restore him his rightful stature as an important pan-African political figure.