Mbeki pulled no punches on Tuesday as he spoke on the political and economic state of the country and his concerns over the direction it was taking.
“The ANC is not the future of the country. We should stop obsessing about the ANC. The ANC has ceased to be the future of South Africa if it continues (as it has been),” he told the Cape Town Press Club. “We have to ask ourselves now: who is the future of the country?”
He said there was a steep decline in the calibre of ANC leaders. The emergence of the “song-and-dance brigade, like Zuma and (ANC Youth League president) Julius Malema, who claim to be leaders”, indicated there was a lack of intellectual and visionary leaders but also leaders of sound morals and values.
He dismissed Malema as insignificant and spoke bluntly about Zuma’s reluctance to act on the recommendations of the public protector after investigations into the leases for two police headquarters.
“I don’t really think much of Julius. I don’t think he’s an important factor… Julius likes to compare himself with the (ANC leaders) of the ‘40s… there’s no comparison, absolutely no comparison,” said Mbeki.
“Up to now the ANC has been led by leaders from that time, they don’t have that – now we have the song-and-dance brigade like Zuma and Julius, who claim to be leaders.”
On Sunday, Afrikaner rights group AfriForum laid a charge of corruption against Malema after revelations of a secret trust, of which he is the sole trustee, which allegedly operated as a conduit for cash paid by business people in exchange for help from the ANC Youth League president in securing tenders and push political agendas.
Malema faces multiple probes into his financial dealings, and has to explain himself to the ANC.
Mbeki said that throughout his tenure Zuma had been criticised by commentators, opposition parties and from within the tripartite alliance as being soft on corruption and for his inability to take bold decisions.
“Zuma has neither the will nor the ability to change the situation… The report released by the public protector last week, Zuma hasn’t done anything yet.
“He says he’s studying it, but all of us know what’s in the report,” said Mbeki.
Politicians, he said, would not create competition for themselves and it was up to citizens to jolt them into action by using their vote to punish or reward them.
However, he said, citizens were “happily marching and dancing to the edge of the cliff with no one caring about where we are going”.
“Blatant corruption” was taking place at the ANC’s investment arm, Chancellor House, he said, with reference to the multibillion-rand deal with Hitachi Power Africa, which in 2007 jointly won a contract with its parent body to supply Eskom with boilers for its two new power stations, Kusile and Medupi.
He slammed the ANC’s model of racial preference, including black economic empowerment, as a tool which had been used to benefit an elite group.
“It (racial preference) was a disaster with the National Party and it’s a disaster now,” said Mbeki.
He said South Africans were living off mineral wealth, which was in decline and unsustainable.
Countries such as South Africa – middle-incomers – were the casualties of globalisation, while big players such as the US and poorer countries which had huge populations and markets were the biggest winners.
Old industrial practices and management systems like those of the mining industry, which still had same-sex hostels, were to the detriment of the economy.
“Cecil John Rhodes would be pleased,” he said. – Political Bureau. Independent Online