Picture: Bheki Radebe/African News Agency (ANA) – The former president, at the memorial of late ANC deputy secretary general Jessie Duarte, emphasised the renewal of the ANC and warned of the potential for an uprising similar to the Arab Spring in 2011.
By Siyabonga Mkhwanazi
Former President Thabo Mbeki may have been out of politics for a long time, but over the past few years he has been making a steady return to ANC politics.
He was first invited by the ANC in KwaZulu-Natal more than a decade after his last visit to the province.
He then visited the Eastern Cape where he addressed the provincial leadership.
The Free State was next on his agenda where he spoke out about some of the problems in the ANC and how to address them.
At the memorial of late ANC deputy secretary general Jessie Duarte on Thursday, Mbeki again lashed out against corruption.
He also emphasised the renewal of the ANC and warned of the potential for an uprising similar to the Arab Spring in 2011 when the leader of Tunisia was ousted.
He said honouring Duarte’s legacy would mean doing things practically.
“At the last ANC national conference in December 2017, it took an important decision and that decision said the ANC must renew itself … for its own survival, that if the ANC did not renew itself, it will perish. This is four-and-a-half years later. The national policy conference of the ANC is meeting in a week’s time and on that agenda one of the matters is the renewal of the ANC. A very, very simple and straightforward matter. One of the things we are meeting to discuss is, in fact, what do we understand by renewal of the ANC four-and-a-half years later. I am saying comrades, that’s one of the things we must address. It’s a challenging task, it’s a challenging job because even in the 49th conference in December 1994, even then, comrades at conference were saying we have begun to inherit people into the ranks of the ANC who are not ANC. People are coming into the organisation in order to use it as a stepladder to positions of state power in order to accumulate wealth for themselves,” said Mbeki.
He called on the ANC to rid itself of people who joined it for self-enrichment.
The movement must also fight efforts that sought to undermine the renewal of the ANC, he said.
The ANC must not be allowed to crumble because of the selfish behaviour of some of its members and leaders.
It was not right that ANC leaders were fingered for corruption and were fighting against one another all the time, he said.
Mbeki also warned that President Cyril Ramaphosa’s government had no policy to deal decisively with poverty, inequality and unemployment.
When Ramaphosa addressed the legislature in his State of the Nation Address in February, he promised to come up with a plan in 100 days. But to date nothing had happened.
The ANC had acknowledged that the country was faced with these challenges but the government did not have a plan in place to tackle them, Mbeki said.
“We do not have an agreed national plan to address all these challenges. There is no national plan to address all these challenges of unemployment, poverty and inequality. It doesn’t exist,” he said.
“One of my fears, comrades, is that one of these days we are going to have our own version of the Arab Spring. You can’t have so many people unemployed, so many people poor, people faced with this lawlessness I am talking about. One day it is going to explode,” said Mbeki.
He said there were many people in the ANC who were not corrupt and were concerned about all of these things. They were also concerned about the level of corruption.
The problem was that most of the municipalities led by the ANC had been fingered in corruption allegations, as reported by Auditor-General Tsakani Maluleke in her annual audit reports for municipalities.
Municipalities were in a state of collapse because their coffers were looted by officials and politicians.
“You see all of these reports of the auditor-general always come out and point the finger at councils, particularly led by the ANC. I think part of the crisis in local government is illustrated by what is happening in Mangaung, paralysed until the national government has to intervene. Who are these people who are paralysing Mangaung municipality? It’s ANC people. They are fighting amongst themselves. That’s nothing to do with serving the people of South Africa,” he said.
Mbeki also said the ANC must reflect its own policy on non-racialism. That had been part of the key policies of the party in the past.
The attendance at Duarte’s memorial showed that the party had abandoned non-racialism, he said.
Mkhwanazi is Current Affairs editor at African News Agency (ANA).