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Sat May 23 01:38:50 SAST 2015

Mbeki must stick to role of elder statesman, says Phosa

SIBUSISO NGALWA | 25 March, 2012 00:04

DESPITE the ANC Youth League's clamour for former president Thabo Mbeki to return to active politics, ANC Treasurer-General Mathews Phosa believes the former president has a better role serving the continent.

DESPITE the ANC Youth League's clamour for former president Thabo Mbeki to return to active politics, ANC Treasurer-General Mathews Phosa believes the former president has a better role serving the continent.

"I don't even think he is thinking that way. I think he sees himself as a statesman who must be consulted, who must guide, advise," Phosa said.

"He's playing the role of an elder statesman and saying: 'Let the new president have the glory.'"

Phosa said Mbeki did not interfere but played a sterling role on the African continent. While some might not agree with the power-sharing agreement the former president had brokered in Zimbabwe, it had brought a lot of stability.

"Look at North and South Sudan: Mbeki has given birth to a new state on the African continent through his intervention. I was in Sudan and listened to President [Omar] al-Bashir about how he appreciates Mbeki's role ... and the South appreciates it as well. It's very rare that you have a mediator who is supported by both sides."

Phosa said he still held Mbeki in high regard, despite the unfounded allegations against the treasurer-general in 2001 that he, Human Settlements Minister Tokyo Sexwale and businessman Cyril Ramaphosa were involved in a coup plot.

"I admire him as a good strategist ... and a diplomat ... I'm the chairman of the Unisa council, and I supported the establishment of the Thabo Mbeki Institute and I'm protecting it," he said.

"Why would our former president be our enemy?"

He said Mbeki could even play a role on the international stage.

"If they want him to intervene in Syria, let him do that."

Phosa said the criticism of the former president by the Rev Frank Chikane, in his book Eight Days in September: the removal of Thabo Mbeki was unnecessary. "Frank is entitled to his own views. If we differ from him, we must do a critique."

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