Former president Thabo Mbeki. Picture: TYRONE ARTHUR
Former president Thabo Mbeki. Picture: TYRONE ARTHUR

The Thabo Mbeki Foundation’s internal discussion document on the land debate, in which it accuses the ANC of abandoning its historical values of non-racialism, must not be misconstrued as an attack on the ANC or its leadership, CEO Max Boqwana says.

The 30-page document, which was leaked from the foundation, questions the ANC’s approach to the land issue, saying it marks a shift from the party’s values expressed throughout its 106-year history.

Boqwana said in a statement sent out on Tuesday evening that the document was an internal document, which resulted from discussions involving various stakeholders, “including the mass democratic movement at home and progressive forces abroad”. 

He said, as a working document, it is not yet intended for public consumption, and emphasised that the document is “a constructive response to the ANC and parliament’s call to the nation to engage in this important debate, doing so in the interest of nation building,”. Boqwana said.

“The foundation and its patron, president Thabo Mbeki, has therefore taken a keen interest in this debate, informed largely by the historical positions the ANC has taken over years. Instead of the document being misconstrued as an attack on the ANC and/or its leadership, it must be accepted as a call for a serious, reflective and constructive discourse on the matter that has bedeviled our country throughout the colonial and apartheid period-to-date.”

The discussion paper says the communication from the ANC around the land question, which has framed the debate as one of black versus white, indicates that the ANC is no longer “a representative of the people of SA”.

The ‘national question’

It argues that, while the land question is an imperative that should be addressed, it has to be done while simultaneously responding to the “national question”, which is to unite South Africans across race and class divides. The paper says the posture of some leaders in the ANC mirrors more the position of the EFF than that of the governing party, which is long-established through its history and its former leaders, as well as in the Freedom Charter.

Boqwana said the foundation is in full agreement with the national sentiment that the “land question”, as a historical injustice, requires urgent redress, but it is of the view that the matter be attendant with “the due seriousness its complexity requires”. 

He said the foundation, therefore, makes the point to draw the public, and particularly the ANC, to the argument that the land and national question are intimately interconnected and cannot be addressed outside of the national question. 

He said the historical debates and positions of the ANC must be affirmed, and that the ANC must lead a critical engagement on the policies of the past 24 years adopted by the democratic government to address the land question, but also to to answer the question — “What is to be done?”

Boqwana said that in the event of any departure from its historical positions, “the ANC, as the leader of society, has the responsibility honestly to engage society and explain what occasioned such departure.”

The foundation urged the public to critically engage with the document.