Avatar photo

By Eric Naki

Political Editor


Motlanthe ‘tried, failed’ to stop Mbeki’s recall

Motlanthe said he believed had they acted differently and earlier, the ANC wouldn’t be where it was now.


Former ANC deputy president Kgalema Motlanthe says he tried, but failed, to stop the recall of former president Thabo Mbeki in 2008, but a group supporting Jacob Zuma, who had triumphed at the Polokwane congress, didn’t care about the party’ rules.

Motlanthe, who is the chair of the ANC electoral committee, said the party missed the boat by not implementing guidelines for leadership nomination, campaigning and election earlier. He believed had they acted differently and earlier, the ANC wouldn’t be where it was now, an apparent reference to current factional leadership nomination processes.

But he pinned his hopes on the upcoming ANC elective national conference to come up with a solution, particularly of a “leadership that inspires confidence is elected”.

The recently announced rules on leadership nomination only applied to the ANC national executive committee but would be extended to lower structures later.

Motlanthe, responding to a question during an interview as part of the PSG Think Big Series, said those elected at Polokwane did not follow constitutional prescripts in their dealings.

He said he attempted to influence the direction that must be followed after the Polokwane ANC election, but was drowned out. Mbeki was defeated by Zuma at Polokwane in a tightly contested race for the ANC presidency.

The election was filled with tension as Mbeki sought a third term as ANC president. Among the Polokwane leaders who influenced Mbeki’s recall were Zuma himself using his proxies; and also then secretary-general Gwede Mantashe, SA Communist Party general secretary Blaze Nzimande, former Cosatu general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi, Fikile Mbalula and Julius Malema.

Mbeki is currently riding the crest of a wave in popularity within the ANC, where he was seen as moral pointman for the ANC as it strives towards achieving a difficult renewal.

For several months now, Mbeki had been addressing meetings of various ANC provincial structures, telling them to follow the ANC – not individuals.

Even the ANC in KwaZulu-Natal, that previously despised Mbeki, had been seeking his wisdom on a number of occasions, including a visit by the newly elected KZN provincial executive committee to his Johannesburg residence.

Some saw him as a de facto ANC president in the light of claims by senior party members that the ANC was on autopilot under Cyril Ramaphosa.

ALSO READ: PODCAST: The state of South African politics – Is unity and renewal in the ANC even possible?

Read more on these topics

African National Congress (ANC) Thabo Mbeki