This week President Thabo Mbeki travelled from Harare to Khartoum in his increasingly prominent role as African mediator. With the African National Congress riven by factional tension, and strident attacks being made on him by alliance demagogues, the prospect of being an absent president with reason to stay away from home may have seemed attractive. Mbeki once placed great emphasis on the African Renaissance project. It was greeted sceptically, but unjustifiably so as it features principles desperately needed in Africa: democratic process, entrenched civil rights, good governance and transparency. There is scant evidence to show that these have been sufficiently highlighted in Mbeki’s interventions. For a new career to be successful, he will need to take serious stock of his approach.