Motlanthe has offered his support to Jacob Zuma [AFP]

Kaglema Motlanthe is regarded as a left-wing intellectual who risked his political career by supporting Jacob Zuma, then the country's deputy president, when Zuma was sacked from the government in light of corruption allegations in 2005.

Now that the charges against Zuma have been thrown out of court, Motlanthe is seen as a likely deputy president should Zuma win the presidency in elections next year.

Until then he is seen as a unifying figure within the ANC and a compromise candidate to lead the country.

Born in 1949, Motlanthe was a member of the ANC's military wing, UmKhonto we Sizwe, when it was fighting against the apartheid government in the 1970s.

In 1977 he was sentenced to 10 years in jail and was sent to Robben Island off the coast of Cape Town, where he was interred with Nelson Mandela, South Africa's apartheid hero.

This, his second time in detention, gave him the chance to develop relationships with influential ANC members.

In 1992 he became the secretary-general of the influential National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) and in 1997 he was elected as secretary-general for the ANC.

In July 2007 he was appointed to the South African cabinet and in December he became the ANC's deputy president, beating the candidate proposed by Thabo Mbeki, then South Africa's president.

Motlanthe is married with three children.

Source: Agencies