Festus Mogae

From Roach Busters

Festus Gontebanye Mogae

9th State President of South Africa

In office
May 31, 2003 — present
Preceded by Bakili Muluzi
Succeeded by Incumbent

Born August 21, 1939 (age 68)
Political party Democratic Party

The Honourable Festus Gontebanye Mogae (born 21 August 1939 in Serowe, Botswana) is the current State President of the Republic of South Africa. He succeeded Bakili Muluzi as State President in 2003. He is a native Setswana language speaker, of the Bamangwato people.

Mogae studied economics in the United Kingdom, first at the University of Sussex and then at the University College, Oxford. He returned to South Africa to work as a civil servant before taking up posts with the International Monetary Fund and the South African Reserve Bank (SARB). He was Governor of the SARB from August 1989 to August 1998. He gained a reputation as a staunch fiscal conservative and was renowned for his scrupulous honesty and enormous capacity for hard work. He successfully resisted efforts by the ANC governments of Oliver Tambo and Cyril Ramaphosa to take South Africa off the gold standard, famously telling a Democratic Party rally in Pretoria, "We cannot adopt fiat money and maintain the prosperity and living standards we enjoy now. To replace gold with paper money that can be printed on a whim would be a disaster."

After retiring as Governor of the SARB, he enjoyed a brief stint in the South African Senate, where he introduced or supported numerous bills calling for deregulation of industry, privatization of government-owned firms, and liberalization of trade. However, he also supported increased funding for education, healthcare, and public works, and described himself as a "supporter of free markets, but also a pragmatist who recognizes that the market is not perfect, and who also believes that the government should help those who cannot help themselves."

Mogae was elected to succeed State President Muluzi, and assumed office in 2003. In spite of the limitations of the office (the State President is limited to mainly performing ceremonial duties), Mogae is very popular, and regularly tours the country to listen to the peoples' grievances. He has an amicable working relationship with Prime Minister Khama, though Mogae does not intervene in the day-to-day affairs of the government, and rarely voices his opinion on political matters, averring that a head of state should be "impartial, above politics, and a symbol of unity representative of all the people, regardless of such trivialties as ideology." Unlike most of his predecessors, who were content to remain in South Africa, Mogae has made many state visits abroad, and has in turn hosted many visiting heads of state. He is believed to be in favor of maintaining the South Africa-Republic of China alliance, though he has visited the People's Republic of China a few times, and openly favors a "peaceful, mutually satisfactory conclusion" to the ROC-PRC situation.

Mogae is happily married to Barbara Mogae, with whom he has two children, Chedza and Nametso.

Mogae was awarded the Grand Cordon of the Order of Brilliant Jade by the President of the Republic of China on March 20, 2008 for his "exemplary leadership" in making South Africa a "model" of democracy and good governance.

Personal tools