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Archbishop of Johannesburg pays tribute to legacy of Mbeki

 The Archbishop of Johannesburg, Buti Joseph Tlhagale, has paid tribute to the ousted South African leader Thabo Mbeki. In an interview with the Missionary News Service the Archbishop said: "The nine years of government of Thabo Mbeki were years of reinforcement of our young democracy, economic development, stability and direct commitment for peace in the continent".

The Archbishop, who was taking part in a conference in MIlan, said: "Mbeki leaves a great legacy, which is wealth for the entire nation that will not be dissipated. The upsetting fact was the way in which the African National Congress (ANC, ruling party) decided and handled the end of an experience, just a few months from the natural conclusion of the term".

He said it had been "a critical situation that nevertheless reflected the concrete and visible degree of strength of South Africa's democracy"/

"The standoff between the new ANC leader Jacob Zuma and Mbeki all unfolded in a political context, never allowing space for violence and/or other extreme demonstrations. Despite fears and the tones of some international media, our nation lived with intensity the political crisis, and first steps of the caretaker President Kgalema Motlanthe are all in sign of continuity".

The Archbishop said he hoped this continuity of choices and results would continue in the government that emerges from the elections set for next year.

"Mbeki's government in fact did many things that for the most part remain unknown outside our borders. Schools were for example built throughout the country, even in the smallest of villages; much was done for the distribution of drinking water; housing was built for the poor."

"One of the few shortcomings was that more should have been done against the spread of AIDS", said Archbishop Tlhagale.

In his reflections, the Archbishop stressed the international stature of Mbeki's diplomacy: "They were nine extremely positive years also in the promotion of South Africa as a peace force in Rwanda, Sudan, Congo, Zimbabwe. Who takes government after the next elections will have the duty to follow up on what was done, though I am certain that Mbeki will remain a key figure in the development of the country and continent". South Africa, in the concrete hope of the prelate, has the potential to face the new challenges posed by the world economic crisis, the means to bring to conclusion the national reconciliation process begun at the end of apartheid and the authoritativeness to guide all of Africa toward peace and prosperity: "Also and primarily this is part of the great legacy left by Mbeki", concluded the Archbishop of Johannesburg.

Source: MISNA