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Mbeki rips into ANC Eastern Cape elective conference, saying it was ‘scramble for positions to get resources’

23 May 2022 - 06:27
Former president Thabo Mbeki recently weighed in on ANC issues after a decade of silence.
Former president Thabo Mbeki recently weighed in on ANC issues after a decade of silence.
Image: Thapelo Morebudi/ File photo

Former president Thabo Mbeki has torn into the leadership squabbles that recently played out in the Eastern Cape provincial elective conference which saw Oscar Mabuyane re-elected as provincial chair.

“According to my calculation, I might be wrong, the conference does not discuss policy.  The conference did not discuss organisational reports because it was busy with credentials. It’s a big battle about credentials. Why? Because the principle task of the conference is to elect ‘me’,” said Mbeki.

The former head of state was addressing a gathering of the ANC Youth League national youth task team political school on Sunday under the banner “Rebuild, renew, revive, reimagine and reposition the ANCYL towards economic freedom in our lifetime, now or never” in Midrand, Johannesburg.

Questioning the calibre of leaders in positions in the ruling party, Mbeki said the organisation has been exhibiting “a downward graph” since 2019.

“I am quite certain all of us are very worried about what’s happening to the movement, and given the place of the governing party since 1994, the impact of what is going wrong within the movement and its impact on the country.”

He said he was also sure there is concern over how the masses have responded to the ANC.

“In the national elections in 2009, 2014 and 2019, it is a downward graph. Very consistent with each of those national elections, fewer and fewer people vote for the ANC.”

Mbeki said the same was happening during municipal elections.

“That’s why when people look at the totality of the municipal votes last year, nationally the ANC got less than 50%. The masses of our people are making a statement about the ANC and it is a very serious statement.”

He referred to former president Nelson Mandela’s political report in 1997 which picked up “we’ve got this strange phenomenon that you find there is a split and divisions somewhere in the ranks of the movement”.

Referring to the Eastern Cape, he said: “When you try to look and resolve this matter, it’s not policy and ideological differences, not about whether we are a broad church or not. It is entirely a scramble for positions to get resources. Entirely.”

He said it must be worrying that the ANC under Mabuyane’s leadership “was preoccupied with credentials because it communicated the conference was solely about getting into a position.”

Turning his attention to KwaZulu-Natal, Mbeki relayed an incident that took place last year.

“Late last year, after the local government elections, somebody sent me a voice note. The person was a comrade from Newcastle in KwaZulu-Natal. He said we (the ANC) did not campaign for the local government elections in Newcastle because the IFP approached us and said don’t campaign, and we agreed and cooperated with them.

“He mentions the name of a particularly popular comrade in Newcastle. The IFP asked him not to campaign and he didn’t. The comrade said the reason why we took this position is because of the quality of our leadership in this area.”

The man gave Mbeki an example of when the municipal council was constituted by the ANC.

“On the pay roll of the municipal council in Newcastle it had izinkabi (hitmen). It was retaining the municipal council professional murderers, paying them every month.

“The man said we are led in the ANC by somebody who is a criminal and that’s why we did not campaign because we were handing over power to someone wearing ANC T-shirts who is a criminal.”

Mbeki was shocked by the message and followed up on the matter in KwaZulu-Natal.

He said they told himt: “How does it come about that we get movement structures led by people of that kind?”

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