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Africa’s moderate extremist

Thabo Mbeki is a moderate politician but he has become defined by extreme positions on Zimbabwe, Aids and internal party dissent

By Tom De Castella   December 2005

Thabo Mbeki and the Battle for the Soul of the ANC by William Mervin Gumede (Zebra Press, £16.99)

Thabo Mbeki the enigma has become a cliché. But so far there have been few attempts to fathom the man who in 1999 was given the impossible task of replacing Nelson Mandela. William Gumede’s unauthorised biography is therefore to be prized. It is not only a long overdue study of a major world leader, but a detective story that tries to unravel the Mbeki paradox—the moderate who admires European social democrats like Tony Blair and Göran Persson but who has become defined…

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