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Week of 11 June 1999

- Mbeki Mbeginnings -

President-elect Thabo Mbeki has not yet been inaugurated, nor has the Parliament of the second democratic republic met - this will happen on Monday - but already there are indications as to the nature of his presidency:

1. Mbeki's inauguration (next Wednesday, 16 June 1999) will cost a reported R47million.

2. The office of the deputy president (Mbeki's former office) will be merged with that of the president and be reduced mainly to ceremonial duties.

3. Mbeki invited Dr Mangosotho Buthelezi, leader of the Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) onto the stage with him when receiving the election results from the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC).

4. The ministry of public enterprises will be expanded. The Presidential Review Commission had recommended it be scrapped in the light of privatisation of state assets.

5. Minister of broadcasting and telecommunications, Jay Naidoo, has decided to quit parliamentary politics. It was speculated that he would be excluded from Mbeki's cabinet. Also quitting are minister of education Sibusiso Bengu, minister of transport Mac Maharaj, minister of foreign affairs Alfred Nzo and minister of defence Joe Modise.

6. Judge Edwin Cameron, described by commentators as "the brightest legal mind of his generation", failed to be appointed to the constitutional court by president Mandela. It was rumoured that although the Judicial Service Commission had recommended his appointment, Mbeki intervened to ensure the appointment of Judge Sandile Ngcobo.

7. Mbeki is likely to appoint more advisors, specifically on economics, and security and intelligence.

- Coalition politics -

The Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) threatened to make the Western Cape "ungovernable" if the ANC - which won 42% of the vote in the province - is excluded from a coalition government. (In fact, chanting and marching down Adderley can be heard as I write).
The ANC rejected an offer of one cabinet seat proposed by the NNP, DP and ACDP. The ACDP may refuse to join the coalition if the ANC is excluded. The NNP and DP need one seat more than they have to form a government. The ACDP and UDM have one seat each. The press, churches and business leaders have all lobbied against the exclusion of the ANC.

The ANC and IFP will form a coalition government in KwaZulu-Natal. The details are being negotiated. The Western Cape is the only province in which the ANC will not govern. Premiers of all the provinces will be officially elected on 15 June 1999.

- Weather -

Winter has at last arrived. Temperatures across the country today:
JHB 00/19; CT 08/19; DBN 09/25; Bloem -1/20; PE 13/21.

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©Jean Redpath 1999