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10 South African ministers resign with Mbeki

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  • 10 S. African ministers, deputy president resign with President Thabo Mbeki
  • Replacement, ANC Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe, sworn in Thursday
  • Mbeki quit after court case collapsed against longtime rival Jacob Zuma
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JOHANNESBURG, South Africa (CNN) -- Ten South African ministers and the deputy president have resigned as President Thabo Mbeki prepares to leave office.

Jacob Zuma, the president's longtime rival, replaced Mbeki as ANC leader last year.

South African President Thabo Mbeki announced his resignation in a televised address Sunday.

His replacement, African National Congress Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe, will be sworn in as South Africa's president Thursday.

Mbeki announced he was resigning on Sunday, prompting threats from several Cabinet members to follow suit -- but the outgoing president urged them to stay in office, government sources said.

The resignations, which include Finance Minister Trevor Manuel and Defense Minister Mosiuoa Lekota, will take effect Thursday when Mbeki steps down, a government statement said.

"All the ministers have expressed their availability to assist the incoming administration in the hand-over process and any other assistance that might be sought from them," the statement said.

The finance minister's assistant told CNN that Manuel is willing to serve in the new government, if needed.

Three deputy ministers have also tendered their resignations, a government statement said.

A spokesman for South Africa's ruling party, the African National Congress, confirmed that it has named Motlanthe as its choice to succeed Mbeki. Motlanthe will stay in office until elections in the spring of next year, which ANC President Jacob Zuma is widely expected to win.

Earlier this month, the ANC asked Mbeki to step down after a judge threw out the corruption, fraud and racketeering case against Zuma -- Mbeki's political arch rival. The judge called the case invalid and accused Mbeki's government of political interference.

Mbeki -- who has been South Africa's president for nearly 10 years -- spoke of some of his achievements when he formally announced his resignation on Sunday during a televised address. Video Watch the significance of Mbeki "falling on the sword" »

"I depart this office knowing that many men and woman in South Africa have worked to achieve better lives for all," Mbeki said.

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Under his leadership the country has had the longest period of sustained economic growth in the South Africa's history and has reached out to indigent people in an unprecedented way, Mbeki said.

Mbeki said the country still has economic, corruption and crime challenges to face in the future. And he gave his vote of confidence to the country's next leader without naming who that leader would be.

Gwede Mantashe, secretary-general of the African National Congress, announced Saturday that the party -- which Mbeki has been involved with since his teens -- had asked him to leave before his term was up.

Mbeki agreed to do so, he said.

Mantashe said the ANC made the decision "for the citizens of South Africa, so there could be stability within the country" and so the ANC movement could remain "stable and unified."

The case against Zuma -- who replaced Mbeki as ANC president last year -- was thrown out in September 2006, but the National Prosecuting Authority recharged him. Judge Chris Nicholson made no ruling on Zuma's guilt or innocence, and he could be recharged.

Political observers doubted that would happen because of Zuma's popularity, particularly with the Communist Party and trade unions.

Zuma has denied the charges. He said the case was politically motivated, and harmed his chances to become the ANC's presidential nominee.

He could have faced at least 15 years in jail if convicted of accepting bribes from a company that got a contract in a multibillion-dollar arms deal.

He also faced charges of having a corrupt relationship with his former financial adviser, Schabir Shaik, who is serving a 15-year sentence for soliciting bribes for Zuma and using Zuma's political influence to benefit his businesses.

Mbeki, 66, succeeded Nelson Mandela as South Africa's president in June 1999. Critics alleged he pushed for the corruption charges against Zuma.

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Mbeki recently brokered a power-sharing deal between Zimbabwe's political rivals, who signed the agreement on Monday in an effort to put aside the violent past and end the crisis that has paralyzed Zimbabwe since disputed national elections in March.

Under it, longtime Zimbabwean leader Robert Mugabe remains president, while his perennial rival, Morgan Tsvangirai, has become prime minister and the coordinator of government affairs.

All About South AfricaJacob ZumaThabo MbekiAfrican National CongressZimbabwe

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