SA ignores Mbeki's timely leadership warning at its peril
The Times Editorial: Former president Thabo Mbeki's warning that South Africa is heading towards "a costly disaster of a protracted and endemic general crisis" has, predictably, been met with mixed views.
On Friday evening, Mbeki diverged from his usual reticence about his views about the current ANC leadership. Speaking at Fort Hare University in the Eastern Cape, Mbeki said he no longer felt sure where South Africa was heading and what he should be doing about it.
"My feeling of unease is also informed by what I sense is a pervasive understanding throughout the nation that there is no certainty about our future with regard to any of our known challenges, and therefore the future of the nation."
ANC secretary-general Gwede Mantashe criticised Mbeki, saying the country had progressed since Jacob Zuma became president.
Mantashe mentioned successes in the fight against HIV/Aids, a direct hit at the former president's Aids denialism.
Cosatu president S'dumo Dlamini slated Mbeki's comments as an effort to "poison" South Africans with implications that the ANC was directionless.
Mbeki's comments come at a sensitive time for the ANC as it prepares for its elective conference in less than two months and serious questions are being asked about Zuma's ability to steer South Africa through torrid economic times.
With ratings agencies having downgraded the country in recent weeks and the international media highlighting the illegal strikes that have crippled the mining sector, Mbeki's comments will have smarted.
The truth is that South Africa is rudderless and the complex economic problems we face appear to be beyond Zuma's grasp.
While Mantashe and Dlamini might believe it should not be Mbeki who utters these words, they cannot afford to ignore the truth - for our country's sake.