Thabo Mbeki throws his weight behind ANC for first time in a decade

Former president Thabo Mbeki. Picture: Twitter/ANC

Former president Thabo Mbeki. Picture: Twitter/ANC

In earlier years the party professed ignorance about the former president’s silence and refusal to campaign, but he’s now made it clear he was unimpressed at what he was seeing.

Former president Thabo Mbeki on Tuesday openly campaigned for the ANC for the first time since his controversial removal as president in 2008.

Mbeki said the ANC had earlier veered off course and he spoke about the consequences of that, which were among other things corruption, loss of integrity and lawlessness.

“These are very important observations. It was very important that the ANC should say that, to say to the people of South Africa, we recognise that there are these things and the language is very strong.

“When you say that you veered off course, to veer off course, instead of going that way you go this way, that’s a very serious observation to me.

“You’ll recall that for many years we had a different approach to this issue, which was people saying we’ve got a good story to tell – as they were busy veering off course they would say ‘we’ve got a good story to tell’.

“There was a period when I could not personally, in all honesty, come and say to a person: ‘David, please vote for the ANC’ knowing very well the wrong things that were happening.

“That would not have been honest of me to go and talk to people like that. I’m saying that the current election manifesto of the ANC has all those observations about the ANC. What that does, it poses a challenge to the ANC. The fact that we admit that we have veered off course resulting in corruption, means we’re making a commitment to the public that we’re going to have to deal with those matters and, therefore, there is a degree of accountability of the ANC to the public. The organisation is trying to make a detailed commitment.”

The ANC’s head of elections, Fikile Mbalula, was on the campaign trail with Mbeki on Tuesday in Johannesburg and shared videos of Mbeki expressing his commitment to the ruling party.

Mbeki said he felt the ANC was committed to change, which was why he would be voting for it again.

In 2016 the ANC in Gauteng said that although they did not know why Mbeki had not been part of their election campaign, it was certain the former president remained a member of the ruling party in good standing.

“He probably had other things to do,” they aid at the time. “But we are confident and sure about comrade Mbeki’s support for our movement and he remains one of our respected leaders.”

It was reported at the time that Mbeki was reluctant to endorse then president Jacob Zuma, allegedly due to “rampant corruption”.

(Compiled by Vhahangwele Nemakonde and Charles Cilliers)

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