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Former president Thabo Mbeki. Picture: MASI LOSI
Former president Thabo Mbeki. Picture: MASI LOSI

Former president Thabo Mbeki launched another blistering attack on the ANC, saying its renewal project has been all talk and no action.

Mbeki made his latest criticism of the party’s leadership while delivering the eulogy at the ANC’s memorial service in tribute to the late former deputy foreign affairs minister Aziz Pahad at the University of Johannesburg.

The renewal project, first initiated in 2017 and reaffirmed as a party resolution in 2022, is aimed at cleansing the ANC of rogue elements that infiltrated it, which have led to the escalation of corruption, money politics, convicted criminals being elected to or appointed in critical positions in the party and government, as well as unqualified and unskilled people leading important state organs.

Mbeki said since the adoption of the renewal resolution in 2017 and 2022 nothing tangible has been done to implement it.

His criticism comes on the eve of the party’s national executive committee (NEC) meeting due to start on Saturday. The meeting will most likely take stock of his critique.

Mbeki has been continuously critical of the leadership of President Cyril Ramaphosa, often slamming the slow pace at which his government and the ANC NEC implement policies.

He has criticised Ramaphosa’s administration, for example, for how little has been done to finalise the social compact with social partners to grow the economy, create jobs and end poverty.

He also accused the ANC, in a letter he wrote to its deputy president, Paul Mashatile, of using its majority in parliament to protect Ramaphosa against accountability by shooting down the Phala Phala report.

Mbeki at the time said the ANC decision to instruct its MPs to vote against adopting the report that said Ramaphosa may have an impeachable case against him was worrying. It suggested the party was protecting Ramaphosa “at all costs” because it knew something untoward had taken place at the farm.

The ANC has, he has also previously said, failed to oversee the much talked about renewal project that is meant to overhaul the party, the failure of which could lead to its demise.

Mbeki on Thursday repeated this at Pahad’s memorial service.

He said the ANC exercised self-introspection at its Nasrec conference in 2017 through a diagnostic report delivered by then-secretary-general Gwede Mantashe, which pointed to the party’s declining fortunes perpetuated by internal squabbles, money politics and corruption as well poor governance, which if ignored would undermine its legitimacy in the public.

“So, the ANC, realising that problem, the one indicated in that diagnostic report, decided that the ANC needs to renew itself. It said at its conference in 2017 the ANC must renew itself for its survival,” said Mbeki. 

However, almost six years since that resolution nothing has been done to show the party was serious about its renewal, he said.

“We did not do that, we did not renew the ANC after that conference resolution of 2017, that resolution has been repeated by the conference of 2022, to renew the ANC,” said Mbeki.

“We are now in October, that was 10 months ago, nothing has happened to renew the ANC. So what was diagnosed in 2017 we are not attending to.”

He would not agree with those who say the ANC has betrayed South Africans.

The ANC had to issue a public explanation about the state of the country and how the party has been weakened over the years.

An NEC member who spoke to TimesLIVE, however, disagreed with Mbeki’s notion that the party has not done anything towards its renewal.

The member pointed to the implementation of the new digital membership system meant to circumvent a lot of the ANC problems, including the use of membership forms to fight factional battles.

“I won’t agree with anyone who says we have not done anything. We have done some elements of the renewal process and this membership system is part of that. Yes, it still has some issues because it leads to delays of conferences, but it is there and it is people who are bringing in their factional issues into this system who are the problem, not the system itself,” the member said.

Mbeki’s criticism of the ANC, especially about the renewal project, could indicate that he may not be keen to campaign for the party before the 2024 election.

He has also told young voters to ask the ANC what would justify them giving it their votes in 2024.


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