Mbeki celebrated across Africa despite detractors at home – Mboweni
While South Africans might think former president Thabo Mbeki had done nothing positive for the country, the rest of Africa celebrated him as an “outstanding leader”, former Reserve Bank governor Tito Mboweni has said.
“His many detractors would have us believe he did nothing for the country during his presidency. They only remember him for his position on HIV/Aids.
“Meanwhile, the rest of the continent celebrates him as an outstanding African leader,” Mboweni said yesterday in Johannesburg, delivering a lecture in Mbeki’s honour as part of the ANC’s centenary celebrations.
Mbeki’s abilities as a leader and intellectual were evident in his recent naming as the Daily Trust 2012 African of the Year.
“Perhaps, as the Bible says, prophets are not recognised in their own country but in far away places,” said Mboweni.
Mbeki’s most important contribution to the country was as deputy president under former president Nelson Mandela following the first democratic election in 1994, he said.
Mandela had left Mbeki to manage the state while he concentrated on reconciliation and nation-building.
“We inherited a bankrupt state, heavily indebted. Mbeki set to put efforts in place to start building the country’s economy.”
Mboweni said Mbeki had many detractors in the ANC.
“A concerted effort was made by some to prevent him from ever becoming the substantive leader of the ANC.
“It was thus no surprise at all that whilst he led the party’s negotiations team in exile, he was quickly replaced when he returned home… and so from chief negotiator he became just a delegate at Codesa [the Congress for a Democratic SA].”
He described the 2007 Polokwane conference, where Mbeki was replaced by president Jacob Zuma, as being “as painful as politics could be”.
“There is surely nothing that can prepare one for a ‘palace coup’ staged by one’s own comrades. That is what happened in Polokwane.”