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Mbeki's criticism of Ramaphosa is a self-centred yet sobering observation, say analysts

Former president Thabo Mbeki’s scathing attack on the incumbent Cyril Ramaphosa must be challenged and is an attempt to protect himself from the party’s failures, say analysts.
Former president Thabo Mbeki’s scathing attack on the incumbent Cyril Ramaphosa must be challenged and is an attempt to protect himself from the party’s failures, say analysts.
Image: Thapelo Morebudi

Former president Thabo Mbeki’s scathing attack on President Cyril Ramaphosa must be challenged and is an attempt to protect himself from the party’s failures.

This is the view of political analyst Xolani Dube, founder of the Xubera Institute for Research and Development, who was critical of the former statesman's remarks. Mbeki said the ruling party had no plan to tackle social ills and that Ramaphosa had failed to keep promises made during his state of the nation address in February.   

“He is playing to the gallery — trying to insulate himself from what the ANC has been doing to South Africans for the past 28 years,” said Dube, remarking that Mbeki, the longest serving president to date, was one of the architects of SA’s sad state of affairs.  

Mbeki was among the first senior party leaders to endorse Ramaphosa, who rose to power on the anti-corruption ticket, unity and renewal of the ANC. This as the party continues to be marred by allegations of corruption and factionalism.

Another political analyst, Dr Ralph Mathekga, however believes there is nothing untoward about Mbeki’s remarks and argues that they are an honest analysis given his stature in the party.  

“It is not necessarily an attack, it is in fact a sobering observation. One thing that came to mind when I saw his remarks, was that well, at the end of the day, no matter which faction you belong to, there are certain people who must call you to order on the promises you’ve made to people.” 

Mathekga suggested Ramaphosa was underperforming considering the big promises he made.

“Mbeki is effectively saying: despite everything that’s going on, remember your promises to South Africans.”

Mbeki was seen campaigning for his party during the 2021 local government elections which saw the ANC relegated to opposition benches in several metros. Touching on this, Dube said it was rich of Mbeki to now tell the nation that the ANC does not have a plan to tackle socials ills.

“He is the most dishonest person, he needs to be challenged and people must ask: 'Why have you been fooling us for so long, saying the ANC is the leader of society when it does not have a plan?'”

In 2020 at the 20th anniversary of the adoption of the constitution, Mbeki warned of  “thieves, charlatans  and imigodoyi'(mongrels)” who had infiltrated party structures and needed to be removed.

Reflecting on this, Dube said Mbeki was “the leader of the pack of imigodoyi and by nature imigodoyi are people who are not honest. Now and again the man is revealing his true colours by the day.”

He argued that Ramaphosa should not to be used as a scapegoat and the entire leadership of the ANC should not be exonerated from their failures, particularly unfulfilled promises to the citizens. 

The ANC ahead of its national policy conference next week faces a mammoth task of clearly defining what it means by renewal and getting rid of 'comrades' seeking self-enrichment, according to Mbeki.   

It should do this to honour the legacy of the late ANC stalwart Jessie Duarte, he said.  

“I am saying renewal is going to mean among other things ridding ourselves of these people who joined the ANC for self-enrichment ... people who are coming into the organisation in order to use it as a step ladder to positions of state power in order to accumulate wealth for themselves,” said Mbeki at Duarte’s memorial service.

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