The former president has told the Sunday Times the ANC needs to be serious about shedding criminal elements from its ranks, or it risks eventual death.
In a wide-ranging interview in the Sunday Times published today, former president Thabo Mbeki remained critical of the ANC and the past 10 years of government despite this week coming out publicly for the first time in a decade to campaign for his party.
Among other things, he said it would be wrong of the party to simply ignore the findings of its integrity committee, which had flagged a number of senior ANC politicians as supposedly problematic candidates who should not be allowed to represent the party in parliament. Many have been implicated in corruption at public inquiries such as the Zondo commission, and in other quarters.
Mbeki reportedly went as far as saying the ANC would be sentencing itself to death if it did not accept its own committee’s recommendations, which would save it from having to send a “thief” to parliament.
Earlier this month, the ANC’s integrity committee flagged Deputy President David Mabuza, Mineral Resources Minister Gwede Mantashe and nearly two-dozen others as “problematic”. The others included ANC head of the presidency Zizi Kodwa, as well as ministers Nomvula Mokonyane, Bathabile Dlamini and Zweli Mkhize.
Mbeki had strong words for the ANC in encouraging them to deal with the serious allegations of corruption that are plaguing secretary-general Ace Magashule.
“They can’t pretend that negative reporting of their secretary-general does not exist,” he was quoted saying.
The committee’s report was highly criticised by those who who were unhappy with its work and called for it to be disbanded. Critics said the committee should have called in the “problematic” candidates to defend themselves, and they had overreached themselves.
For his part, Mbeki made it clear that although he had decided to give his party another chance and campaign for it, he was yet to be completely convinced the ANC was committed to stopping the rot in its ranks.
He said it would remain to be seen how much practical correction would be implemented following elections.
When the paper asked Magashule for comment on Mbeki’s statements, he said he found what they were telling him hard to believe as he had been under the impression Mbeki understood the ANC’s commitment to the “universal law” of innocent until proven guilty.