Former president Thabo Mbeki has denied claims he suppressed open discussion and dissenting voices within the ANC.
ANC alliance partners, labour federation Cosatu and the SA Communist Party (SACP), attacked Mbeki’s leadership when he was president, saying under his leadership the country was drifting towards a dictatorship.
The SACP played a role in the ousting of Mbeki, nine months before the end of his second term. In a letter posted on the Thabo Mbeki Facebook page yesterday, Mbeki vehemently denied there had been suppression of voices in the ANC’s national executive committee (NEC) meetings.
Mbeki said the election of former Limpopo premier Sello Moloto as ANC provincial chairperson in 2005 made him a member of the ANC NEC.
“For the first few meetings he kept quiet, presumably to familiarise himself with how the NEC conducted its business,” said Mbeki in the letter.
He said when Moloto finally made his maiden statement, “he said that some members of the NEC… had repeatedly told him that president Mbeki in particular did not allow for open discussion and debate at NEC meetings. This resulted in the general practice in the NEC of suppression of dissenting views.”
Mbeki said Moloto’s direct observation was that contrary to what he had been told, there had been absolutely no suppression of any view at the meeting, despite the fact various conflicting views had been presented.
“Nobody stood up to contest what Moloto had said,” Mbeki said.
“And perhaps needless to say, nobody also stood up to apologise for having deliberately gone out of the way to feed Sello with false information.”
Political analyst Elvis Masoga said it was too late for Mbeki to try clarify misconceptions, saying Mbeki was a “dictatorial leader”.
“You could see the way he ran state institutions. It was very clear that many people were scared to voice their concerns.”
SACP spokesperson Alex Mashilo said there were tendencies of suppressing dissenting views under Mbeki’s leadership.
“Who called SACP general secretary Blade Nzimande extraordinarily arrogant when he was raising issues at the ANC NEC meeting?” asked Mashilo.