Outgoing ANC national chairperson and presidential hopeful Baleka Mbete says it is regrettable and sad that former president Thabo Mbeki was recalled almost a decade ago without concluding the remaining nine months of his second term in office.
However, Mbete says Mbeki’s removal by the ANC’s highest decision-making body between national conferences – the national executive committee (NEC) – could not be avoided.
“I think it was a sad decision. It was a very sad decision that we all participated in moving towards, but it had to happen because of what had preceded that meeting where the NEC ended up taking that decision,” Mbete said in an interview with SABC News on Wednesday.
Mbete said people should not compare Mbeki’s recall by the NEC in 2008 to the numerous failed attempts by some of its members to oust Zuma from power because a majority of ANC members do not want the president removed.
“I think you must look at what the issues were … I don’t think that you should generalise and say because it happened with one member of the ANC or one leader, it necessarily should be expected to just happen with the other,” she said.
Mbete also rubbished claims that as speaker of parliament she had been protecting Zuma from accounting to the national legislature.
“What exactly is this protecting the president? There is nothing from the chair that me or any other presiding officer has done that we would have not done had Mmusi Maimane [DA leader] been the president, and had he been faced with the same set of circumstances,” she said.
“They are very wrong; they are just not getting it, I think,” Mbete added.
Asked whether she thought the ANC had properly handled the expulsion of former youth league leader Julius Malema from the governing party back in 2012, Mbete said she supported calls by some of the ANC’s members for Malema to return, saying she would welcome him back.
“I think those people who are making those calls are correct, but that’s not to say the ANC at the time could have done differently,” she said.
“You can’t be faced with members of your organisation who consistently are defiant and are not working according to the procedures, structures, and decorum of the party … Regrettable as it might be, they should come back and be persuaded to remember that in fact this is their home.”