ANC leaders ‘losing direction’ – Mbeki
The ANC’s current leadership is losing its ability to provide direction to South Africa, former President Thabo Mbeki said.
“I… [am] deeply troubled by a feeling of great unease that our beloved motherland is losing its sense of direction, and that we are allowing ourselves to progress towards a costly disaster,” he said yesterday, delivering the Oliver Tambo memorial lecture at the University of Fort Hare, Eastern Cape.
“Today… I am not certain about where our country and nation will be tomorrow, and what I should do in this regard, to respond to what is obviously a dangerous and unacceptable situation of directionless and unguided national drift.”
Mbeki challenged ANC leaders to follow Tambo’s example. He described the former ANC president as a revolutionary leader who fought for South Africa’s liberation without expecting anything in return.
Mbeki said the shooting at Lonmin’s Marikana mine in the North West had signalled “a radical weakening of the national labour relations system”, which had been one of the most important victories in the struggle for democracy.
On August 16, 34 striking Lonmin workers were shot dead in a confrontation with police, during a strike for a monthly wage of R12 500.
Mbeki criticised those in the party who were using state resources to advance personal interests.
“We have an obligation to ensure that our continuing… struggle is led by people who never, in any way, abuse state power to advance their personal interests.”
He admitted that during his tenure as ANC president he did not help foster an environment to create new leaders for the party.
“I must accept that during the years when I served in the leadership of the ANC, we failed to achieve the objective of sustaining the calibre of a membership made up of politically mature and committed cadres.”
He said the ANC should have been insulated from those who used the party to abuse state power.
“The real and hard truth is that, in this regard, the current leadership of the ANC and the broad democratic movement, at all levels, have inherited this failure, which lies at the base of much that is going wrong in our country.”