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By Gareth Cotterell

Digital Editor

Mbalula says Mbeki’s criticism of ANC ‘could be justified’

Despite Thabo Mbeki saying he saw little evidence of the ANC’s renewal, Mbalula said the party is “attending to the issues”.

ANC secretary-general Fikile Mbalula said the party is “attending to the issue” of the party renewing itself, after former president Thabo Mbeki’s scathing attack this week.

Speaking at a memorial service for anti-apartheid activist and former deputy minister of foreign affairs Aziz Pahad, Mbeki said he saw no signs of renewal within the ANC.

“The fact of the matter is that we did not renew the ANC following the party conference resolution of 2017. That resolution was repeated by the conference of 2022. We are now in October and nothing has happened to renew the ANC,” he said.

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‘Constructive criticism’

Addressing the media at the ANC’s NEC meeting in Boksburg on Saturday, Mbalula said Mbeki’s criticism “could be justified”.

He added that Mbeki is an elder of the ANC and the party needs to embrace what he said as “constructive criticism”.

“Even if they have to raise it in public, in the midst of our enemies, it’s still fine with us,” Mbalula said.

“President Mbeki is a veteran of the ANC, he’s a stalwart, he’s decorated. When you see him, you see ANC itself. So, the issues that he raises about renewal, we are attending to them. We are almost one year from the conference. I’ve met with him several times and we have agreed on this.”

ANC spokesperson Mahlengi Bhengu-Motsiri said the party “defers” to the views of its elders.

“Part of the reflection that’s really going to be taking place is how far we’ve gone on the journey to renewal, but we think that there are many things that the ANC will reflect on that provides evidence that the journey to renewal is on,” she said.

Mbalula added that the ANC has adopted a renewal committee, and the issue has gone beyond a simple conceptual level.

ANC’s step-aside rule

He claimed that the ANC no longer presumes its members are innocent until proven guilty. He said members accused of corruption now have to abide by the step-aside rule.

The ANC secretary-general also said the renewal of the party is not just about dealing with unethical conduct by its members, but also with the modernisation of the organisation.

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Mbalula said the renewal committee is headed by President Cyril Ramaphosa and supported by former leaders of the ANC.

Mbalula also touched on the ANC’s Integrity Commission – specifically about its interventions and recommendations.   

“We have taken strides and we are rectifying those issues… We are going to have a special NEC meeting to finalise the terms of reference [and] all the recommendations of the Integrity Commission.”

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