Profession: President of South Africa
Why Famous: Thabo Mbeki served as South Africa's second president from 1999-2008. The son of a prominent jailed ANC leader Govan Mbeki, Mbeki was educated in the United Kingdom and for a year in the Soviet Union before returning to Africa in 1971 to serve in ANC roles.
Mbeki played a leading role in secret negotiations with the South African government in 1989 to decriminalize the ANC and bring about the release of political prisoners, including Nelson Mandela.
In 1994 Mbeki was selected deputy president by President Mandela. He went on to be elected ANC president in 1997 and to succeed Mandela as president of South Africa in 1999. He was re-elected to a second term in 2004.
As president Mbeki attempted to address the high crime rate in the country, encourage economic investment and continue the transition of South Africa from an apartheid state. He has been widely criticized for his failure to address the AIDS epidemic in South Africa, especially for a statement where he questioned whether HIV caused AIDS. His ban on antiretroviral drugs in South Africa is though to have cost many thousands of lives.
Mbeki's relationship with fellow ANC leader Jacob Zuma became more fractious after Zuma was fired as Deputy President in 2005 due to corruption charges. In 2007 Zuma not Mbeki was elected president of the ANC. Then in 2008 Mbeki was asked to resign from the presidency after allegations of political interference in Zuma's trial, which were later dismissed. Mbeki was succeeded by Kgalema Motlanthe as interim president in September 2008.
- 1974-11-23 South African ANC leader Thabo Mbeki (32) marries social worker Zanele Dlamini (36) in London, England
- 1999-06-16 Thabo Mbeki is elected 2nd President of a democratic South Africa
- 1999-06-25 In his first state of the nation address, South African President Thabo Mbeki promises to tackle rampaging crime; the nation's murder rate is the third highest in the world and more than 49,000 cases of rape were reported in 1998
- 2000-08-09 South African President Thabo Mbeki unveils the Women's Monument commemorating the role of women in the anti-apartheid struggle
- 2002-07-09 The African Union is established in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. The first chairman is Thabo Mbeki, President of South Africa.
- 2008-09-21 President Thabo Mbeki of South Africa resigns from office, effective September 25