Mbeki speaks out against leaders who are ‘thieves’ and self-serving

Former president Thabo Mbeki. File Picture: Refilwe Modise

Former president Thabo Mbeki. File Picture: Refilwe Modise

Mbeki says progressive leaders seek to serve the interests of the people, not their own self-enrichment.

Former president Thabo Mbeki on Monday lamented the lack of “progressive leadership” in Africa and spoke out against “thieves” who violated the Constitution.

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“What the continent needs is a progressive leadership to effect the changes we need. And a progressive leader is a leader who says my task is to serve the people, to ensure that the quality of life of the people changes for the better … and therefore that progressive leader would not be a thief. Because you can’t say because I’m a progressive leader and therefore serve the interests of the people … but in that course, I will also put something in [the] pocket,” Mbeki said in Pretoria during a session with students from the Thabo Mbeki Leadership Institute.

Mbeki said the Constitution was the product of the country’s struggle history and that he did not expect that the same owners of the Constitution would want to violate it. The former statesman also spoke about the growing public dissatisfaction with the African National Congress (ANC), particularly around perceptions that the governing party was self-serving.

“The ANC was established to liberate the people of South Africa from colonial pressures and later apartheid pressures. Loyalty to the party means loyalty to the purposes of the party,” he said.

He also said if citizens were disaffected with the party’s leadership, the ANC must be worried about this, or else it would send the wrong message to the public.

“If I join the ANC, and I am made a mayor as a result, and I then give tenders to my friends and get the necessary kickbacks, I will be loyal to the ANC and not loyal to the people.”

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He said the problem facing the continent was not that of the quality of leadership but the challenge of progressive leadership.


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