‘ANC has the mindset of a one-party state’

2011-07-30 14:38

The ANC has labelled him a doubting Thomas who suffers from selective amnesia, and the voice of the opposition who betrayed the ­noble principles and beliefs held by his late struggle icon father, Govan Mbeki.

But Moeletsi Mbeki (67) doesn’t seem at all bothered by the vitriolic attack, which came in the form of a statement released by the ANC following remarks he made about the organisation’s leadership and economic policies at a meeting of the Cape Town Press Club on Tuesday.

Strangely, the statement, penned by the ANC’s chief spin doctor, Jackson Mthembu, is dated July 27 2001 – yes, 2001.

It is not clear, though, if Mthembu is implying that Mbeki’s or the ANC’s views are a decade too late.

Anyway, Mbeki says he was ­invited to speak about his new book, Advocates for Change – How to Overcome Africa’s Challenges, but “got sidetracked during question time”.

Mbeki was quoted as saying that there was a steep decline in ­leadership in the ANC and that the politicians running the party were an example of the decline in ­intellect and vision.

But what seems to have irked the ANC’s spin machine even more is Mbeki’s reference to ­Jacob Zuma’s leadership as a “song and dance brigade” and that South ­Africans should not look for a ­future in the organisation.

Even Zuma’s chief spin doctor, the newly appointed Mac ­Maharaj, had a go at Mbeki in the media, saying his comments indicated “deep-rooted bitterness”.

Mbeki responded: “I think it’s the mindset of a one-party state. The ANC is such a dominant party they then jump to the conclusion that they are the cleverest people because they have the largest vote and therefore everybody else hasn’t got any wisdom.

“So instead of saying what can I learn from the criticism, the ANC says this is an enemy I must attack.

“They think I said what I said ­because my brother (former president Thabo Mbeki) lost the vote at Polokwane and that he was ­removed by the NEC (national ­executive committee) as president before the end of his term,” said Mbeki.

But he says he never supported Thabo’s bid for a third term.

“Most people in Africa don’t believe in third terms. People don’t like third terms because they realise that when people stay in power for too long, they then become dictatorial, they think they are the ­only ones who have a solution to the country’s problems,” he said.

Mbeki has long been an outspoken critic of the ANC’s policies, even under his elder brother Thabo’s tenure, and by the look of things he’s not about to be ­silenced.

“Even now I’m not criticising Zuma as an individual. I was saying the government is not solving the economic conditions of the people of South Africa. They claimed they could solve them, but they are not doing so,” he said.

One gets the feeling he would rather not dwell too long on his relationship with either his father or his brother, both of whom played leading roles in the senior structures of the ANC and government.

In fact, he is businesslike in his approach, preferring to stick to politics and business rather than discussing personal matters.

Does he offer advice to his elder brother?

“I never offer my brother advice. He knows what he’s doing,” he said.

Is the current South Africa the kind of society that his late father, the great Govan Mbeki, would have wanted to see?

“No, I don’t think so.”

To illustrate the seriousness with which he regards his job as a political analyst, Mbeki went to the trouble of preparing graphics and slides solely for our interview.

His late father was lauded by his comrades as one of the most ­efficient, patient and practical teachers around.

And as his son went through the graphics page by page, one could not help but recognise the late old man’s traits in his son, who also airs his views in that slow, reflective, trademark Mbeki manner.

“Now look at this,” he said, pointing to a graphic like a teacher explaining to a learner.

He patiently explained how South Africa’s gross domestic product (GDP) goes into private consumption and not investment that would help create jobs.

“We are somewhere around 72%. China is 35%. The difference is investment. The Chinese invest their GDP and create jobs. They build factories, railways, new cities and therefore people get work.”

Mbeki says what government has been doing since 1994 “is building a class of rich blacks and these rich blacks are taking a big part of our resources and consuming them, instead of investing them”.

On Tuesday night he told the Cape Town Press Club that the ANC, just like the National Party before it, has created a model that benefits only a small inner circle.

A lot of people, he said, are taking their money overseas because they are unsure about South ­Africa’s future.

So does he also harbour plans to take his money elsewhere?

“I wish I had money,” he said with a laugh.

“This is my country of birth.”

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