South Africa?s Communist Party (SACP) has welcomed the appointment of the vice president of the ruling African National Congress (ANC) party into President Thabo Mbeki?s cabinet as a step in the right direction. The SACP, which is in an alliance with the ruling ANC, says the appointment of deputy leader Kgalema Motlanthe is long overdue. The party adds that the appointment would ensure a smooth transition after President Mbeki leaves office ahead of this year?s general elections. Some political observers, however, say President Mbeki has bowed to internal pressure from the camp of the leader of the ANC, Jacob Zuma. From Johannesburg, SACP spokesman Francis Maleka tells reporter Peter Clottey the party has yet to be informed about the possible portfolio of the deputy ANC leader.

?The South African Communist Party welcomes the announcement, wishing that the appointment of the deputy president of the ANC into a senior cabinet position has long been overdue. Obviously, at this moment we have not been informed of the exact duties and responsibilities and an exact ministry that would be assumed by the deputy president of the ANC,? Maleka noted.

He said the appointment of the ANC deputy president is a move to ensure a silky future transition for the next president.

?This might be an important step in moving forward towards making sure that we have got a smooth transition between the Mbeki regime and the Zuma regime when President Jacob Zuma assumes his role as the president of the republic next year,? he said.

Maleka described as unfortunate speculation that President Mbeki caved into pressure from within the ruling party.

?I don?t know what people mean when they say that this is because of pressure. The reality of the matter is that the African National Congress has their own elections, so the ruling party will then determine what must happen in government. They (ANC) went to the electorates, presented the manifesto, and more than 70 percent of the electorate reaffirmed the ANC to lead. So I think it is a suggestion that has been extremely founded on intention to cause divisions in our movement, even where they do not exist,? Maleka pointed out.

He said that after President Mbeki, there is need for the next presidency to run without any hitches.

?The reality of the matter is that all of us know that the ruling party need to continue to prepare themselves to be able to have a smooth transition from individuals who are at the helm. The issue that has been raised insofar as the deputy president of the ANC is concerned, we understand in two or threefold. Firstly, is that in his capacity, as the secretary general, he was full-time at the Tuli house, therefore amassed a lot of experience. So the first question was that, what do you do with that experience? The second thing is that in any way we have to prepare for a transition. So how do you deploy your cadres such that they are ready and are able to assume responsibilities he asked.

Maleka said South Africans should be aware of the ANC council resolution, which would be upheld by the rank and file of the party.

?The ANC is a very dynamic organization of capable leaders so the suggestion that this might mean that automatically comrade Kgalema might be ahead of anybody, there are no guarantees. Next year or late this year, there would be process to determine the list of our public representatives. That process would determine our candidate for various things. What I think the public needs to know is that there is an ANC conference resolution, which is that the president of the ANC must be the president of the republic. So that thing won?t change,? Maleka, pointed out.

He said President Mbeki was following laid down procedure by appointing the ANC deputy leader into his cabinet.

?President Mbeki is only implementing the decision of the national executive body of the ANC that it is only befitting that the deputy president of the ANC stays in cabinet. So he is not making other extraordinary overtures to the deputy president,? he said.