24 Sep 2008

Resignations rock South African government

6:44 am on 24 September 2008

Eleven members of the South African cabinet are resigning along with President Thabo Mbeki, who is to step down on Thursday.

The BBC reports the resignations are seen as a blow to the African National Congress government.

ANC leader Jacob Zuma said the situation would soon return to normal.

However, one of the eleven, Finance Minister Trevor Manuel, says he has been asked to stay on by ANC leaders and he is happy to do so.

ANC secretary general Gwede Mantashe said only six of the 11 had "no intention of serving in the new government".

He said the remaining five, plus three deputy ministers, felt that a new president should be given the space to make appointments. However, they were ready to serve in a new government, if asked to do so.

The ANC is divided between supporters of Mr Mbeki and Mr Zuma.

Mr Mbeki is to leave office on Thursday after accusations that he interfered in the prosecution of Mr Zuma on corruption charges.

A statement from the presidency said the resignation of 10 ministers, three deputy ministers and Deputy President Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka would also be effective on Thursday.

As party leader, Mr Zuma is favourite to become South Africa's president in elections due next year.

Mr Zuma's allies had said they wanted the cabinet to stay in place.