Mbeki is not fighting Ramaphosa, he is fighting for the soul of the ANC

It is high time that ANC leaders stopped pretending as if they are above the law and free from accountability.

A lot has been going on in the country and former president Thabo Mbeki can’t keep his mouth shut any longer.

In a letter addressed to ANC deputy president Paul Mashatile last week, Mbeki expressed his concerns over alleged corruption at Eskom and in the Phala Phala saga.

He is spot-on and doesn’t shy away from the fact that if things continue as they are, the party might find itself experiencing a repeat of the 2021 local government elections – where a majority of people boycotted their democratic right to vote.

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Mbeki has lamented how the behaviour of ANC leaders is detrimental to the party’s progress and ability to connect with the masses. ANC leaders have stepped into a territory of failing to stand up for what is right and just.

What they only do is to boldly defend nonsense while the party takes the hardest hit. Like the days of former president Jacob Zuma, the ANC leaders were shielding him from accounting for his Nkandla scandal.

And now, when we think they’ve repented and learnt their lesson, they still do the same thing again.

Today, they go to ANC parliamentarians and threaten them with their livelihoods, hence it is not surprising to find them voting against motions that are of public interest and crucial in holding leaders to account.

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This tactic of threatening members of parliament has also showed its ugly head with President Cyril Ramaphosa’s Phala Phala farm scandal.

This is a case that allegedly puts Ramaphosa at the centre of alleged money laundering. And instead of ANC MPs allowing parliament to probe the matter further, they voted against the motion and protected Ramaphosa without wanting to know the facts.

This not only keeps the MPs in the dark, but casts a dark shadow on the ANC. Lack of accountability seems to be the order of the day and Mbeki should be applauded for bringing this issue to the attention of the ANC leadership without fear.

As much as this is seen as a personal attack on Ramaphosa, Mbeki is not fighting the president but is fighting for the soul of the ANC. He is only interested in a renewed ANC that is the leader of society.

It is high time that ANC leaders stopped pretending as if they are above the law and free from accountability.

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The days of these leaders using the ANC membership and the masses to shield themselves from their wrongdoing must come to an end.

For every wrongdoer, or allegedly so, should face the music without dragging the ANC with them. It must be noted that Mbeki is only seeking for the ANC to self-correct because if it doesn’t, it may lose the power that its leaders are taking for granted.

However, those who are Mbeki’s critics have voiced out their frustration and suggested that he must keep quiet. They hide behind the fact that Mbeki was protected by the ANC during his presidency when it came to the arms deal, and HIV/Aids denialism, among others.

Maybe it’s time they open their eyes, that the protection of ANC presidents has led to the present state of the party. But we should not take away the fact that what Mbeki is being criticised and was defended for is nothing but issues of policy concern to South Africa.

But for Nkandla and Phala Phala, it has nothing to do with government policy but personal wrongdoing that has been affecting the integrity of the presidency. Therefore, we can’t compare Mbeki’s protection to that of Zuma’s and Ramaphosa’s.

Mbeki is crying for corruption to be addressed. For this cancer is crippling the ANC and the country. He understands that if the problem of corruption is not dealt with, the country risks being another failed African state.

Mbeki’s letter indeed speaks to the concerns of the masses and the ANC leadership shouldn’t take it lightly.

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The 2024 elections are around the corner and, if Mashatile is interested in becoming the next president, he must take the letter seriously. Perhaps that is why Mbeki addressed the letter to Mashatile. It is a stern warning to him. And again, maybe Mbeki as such is giving Mashatile an effective role as deputy president.

Imagine Mashatile gunning for Ramaphosa to account for Phala Phala. What a great legacy that would be for him.

-Mthembu is an independent commentator