The ANC must remove useless leaders – Mbeki

Former president Thabo Mbeki with the ANC’s KZN chairperson Siboniso Duma and members of the Mabhida family at Heroes Acre in Imbali Township, Pietermaritzburg on Saturday. | Sibusiso Mboto

Former president Thabo Mbeki with the ANC’s KZN chairperson Siboniso Duma and members of the Mabhida family at Heroes Acre in Imbali Township, Pietermaritzburg on Saturday. | Sibusiso Mboto

Published May 12, 2024


Durban — Former president Thabo Mbeki says the ruling party must be brave enough to remove non-performing public representatives, to ensure it lives up to expectations and the promises contained in its manifesto.

Mbeki was speaking at Heroes Acre in Imbali Township, Pietermaritzburg yesterday, canvassing support for the ANC in the Moses Mabhida region.

Mbeki’s tour included a visit and an interaction with the families of struggle stalwarts Johnny Makhathini and Moses Mabhida, the laying of wreaths on their graves, and an interaction with the public at the Edendale Mall.

Speaking briefly at the cemetery, the former president stressed the need for the ANC to work towards delivering a South Africa that the ruling party’s founding fathers had in mind more than a century ago.

He recalled the commitment demonstrated by both Mabhida and Makhathini to the struggle, adding that failing to deliver services to the people would amount to betraying the legacy of the two.

“Our first response must be that the ANC must make sure that it lives up to the promises it makes to the people. When the ANC makes promises like it has done in its manifesto, it must ensure that it actually does implement them. So we have to look at the ANC itself,” said Mbeki at a media briefing.

He stressed the importance of decisive leadership that would ensure that services are delivered to the people.

“So if you have a Thabo Mbeki that is useless, remove him so that you can put in a useful person who is able to do the things that are necessary,” he said.

Mbeki said the commitment to serve people should not be something that becomes visible during elections, but an ongoing exercise.

He told the audience he was carrying out a command to campaign for the ANC and was honoured to do it in the region that had produced the two members with whom he had worked for a long time during the struggle years.

His visit marked the first time he had been in the area since he was booed by a band of ANC supporters that sought to humiliate him.

The incident at the Harry Gwala Stadium in 2006 during the reburial of Mabhida was the start of tensions between Mbeki and members in the region and the greater part of KwaZulu-Natal.

However yesterday, Mbeki, who had been in a self-imposed exile, was in a cheerful mood, greeting party members and supporters as part of drumming up support ahead of the May 29 elections.

The region’s leadership referred to him as the “two-thirds president”, recalling how during his era the ANC recorded an emphatic win in the 2004 elections.

ANC Moses Mabhida region secretary Samora Ndlovu said it was important for Mbeki to campaign in the region as it would help draw ruling party members who felt marginalised when he had been out of the picture in recent years.

Ndlovu added that Mbeki resonated very well with a significant portion of the ANC membership.

He added that they were equally mindful of the treatment the former president had received during his last visit to the region.

"Thankfully, those who were behind that move have flushed themselves out of the ANC and joined uMkhonto weSizwe Party (MKP)," said Ndlovu.

According to the regional secretary, the campaign is going well and the ruling party has been well received on the campaign trail, which makes them confident of doing well at the polls.

"This is the ANC's turf regardless of what some people will say", Ndlovu said.

His remark was a reference to the MKP, whose members marched to the offices of Msunduzi Municipality demanding better services.

The ANC regional secretary said they regarded the MKP like any other political opponent, but emphasised that they were not losing sleep over it.

Heroes Acre in Imbali Township was freshly cleared of dense and overgrown vegetation, which the Msunduzi Municipality has battled to maintain.

Sunday Tribune