Mbeki: Key Zimbabwe role [GALLO/GETTY]
Thabo Mbeki, the president of South Africa, met with Al Jazeera's Sami Zeidan on a recent visit to the Qatari capital Doha.

After succeeding Nelson Mandela as president in 1999 Mbeki has become a key figure in both African and international politics.

Due to his country's close proximity the president has assumed an important role as head of the chief regional mediator on the crisis in Zimbabwe, although he has often come in for criticism from western powers for not publicly criticising the government of Robert Mugabe.

Despite presiding over strong economic growth at home and being reelcted for a second presidential term in 2004 he has suffered several setbacks recently.

As the country prepares to host the 2010 football World Cup crime rates continue to be among the highest in the world and there is an increasing gap between rich and poor.

Members of Mbeki's government have been the subject of several corruption scandals and he recently lost the leadership the Africa National Congress (ANC) to his rival Jacob Zuma.

Given the electoral dominance of the party it is likely that Zuma could now be the next presidnet of the republic as well depriving Mbeki of the opportunity to choose his own successor when he steps down.

Watch part one of Talk To Al Jazeera with Thabo Mebki

Watch part two of Talk to Al Jazeera with Thabo Mebki

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Source: Al Jazeera