Former president Thabo Mbeki arrives at the Rand Easter Show in Johannesburg on Tuesday. Picture: CLAUDI MAILOVICH
Former president Thabo Mbeki arrives at the Rand Easter Show in Johannesburg on Tuesday. Picture: CLAUDI MAILOVICH

After years of quiet on the campaigning front and saying his vote was confidential, former president Thabo Mbeki has come out to endorse the ANC.

Mbeki has stayed away from the ANC’s election campaigns since he was ousted at the 2007 Polokwane conference and recalled as state president in 2009 in favour of former president Jacob Zuma.

Mbeki told journalists at the Rand Easter Show in Johannesburg on Tuesday that the ANC admitted that it had veered off course and had made mistakes and that the consequences included corruption, loss of integrity and lawlessness.

This was a very serious observation to make, he said, and contrasted it with what he described as a “different approach” in the years before.

“As they were busy [previously] veering off course, they said we have a good story to tell,” Mbeki said. As a result he was unable to call on people before now to vote for the ANC, as it would “not be honest for me to go and talk about it”.

Mbeki’s first campaigning in more than a decade came on the same day that the DA sent its former leader Tony Leon out to canvass for the party in Gauteng.

The ANC received a two-thirds majority of the vote in Gauteng when Mbeki held the reins of the party’s presidency in 2004, at the height of its support in the province. Electoral support tanked under the rule of former president Jacob Zuma.

Today the ANC is vulnerable in Gauteng, where it held just 54% of the support after the 2014 general elections and the DA hopes to push it below the required majority.

Mbeki said the ANC’s own diagnosis of its mistakes in its election manifesto meant a commitment to the public from which the party could not run, as there would be consequences.

That problematic members had made it on to the party’s national list despite numerous allegations against them was an issue not yet resolved, he said. The ANC’s national executive committee has referred its lists to the party’s internal integrity commission which has reportedly completed a report on the matter. 

Mbeki said the revelations at the commissions of inquiry into the SA Revenue Service (Sars), the Public Investment Corporation and state capture told the story of what the ANC has addressed in its manifesto.

The revelations uncovered by the Nugent commission into Sars told a “frightening” story, Mbeki said, which he equated to destroying the government, given that the revenue collected by the tax agency actually funded it.