Mbeki, Yacoob take jibe at Zuma during Constitution anniversary celebrations

2016-05-08 14:05
Former President Thabo Mbeki sits with other panellists ahead of an event to mark the 20th anniversary of the adoption of the Constitution. (Jeff Wicks, News24)

Former President Thabo Mbeki sits with other panellists ahead of an event to mark the 20th anniversary of the adoption of the Constitution. (Jeff Wicks, News24)

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'Our people should engage in a national dialogue' - Thabo Mbeki

2016-04-26 09:49

Former President Thabo Mbeki says that in order to move forward South Africa must engage in a national dialogue. Watch.WATCH

Pretoria – Former president, Thabo Mbeki, and retired Constitutional Court justice, Zak Yacoob, on Sunday took a thinly veiled swipe at President Jacob Zuma and his administration during a panel discussion at an event to celebrate the adoption of the Constitution.

The panel was convened to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the adoption of the Constitution in Parliament in 1996, and was hosted at Pretoria’s Freedom Park.

The park itself is a monument to South African conflict, opening in 2004. 

Mbeki and Yacoob have both been vocal critics of Zuma and his current administration.

“As South Africans we signed a common contract to say this is the South Africa we want to build. It is an important day because it brought to an end a struggle that lasted centuries,” Mbeki said.

Flouted the Constitution

He said that large portions of society remained unfamiliar with the Constitution, to the detriment of the country.

This was in an apparent veiled reference to the adverse finding of the Constitutional Court against President Jacob Zuma and the National Assembly. 

The Constitutional Court ruled that Zuma flouted the Constitution when he ignored Public Protector Thuli Madonsela's remedial action on the non-security upgrades done at his private home in Nkandla.

"A lot of our people are not familiar with what this Constitution says. The consequence is that we sit in government and do something that is wrong and even unconstitutional, Mmusi [Maimane] will say it’s incorrect and so will the judges [of the Constitutional Court], but where is the rest of society?” he questioned. 

“If there was more familiarity with it, there would be a larger social intervention,” Mbeki added.

Mbeki, asked directly to comment on his evaluation of the current political leadership, was restrained in his response. "What is clear to all of us is there is a lot of restlessness in the country and a lot of disaffection about the current situation," he said.

Equal before the law

Yacoob emphasised that all were equal before the law, and he called for the hallmarks of the Constitution be realised.

“Everyone is equal before the law… our Constitution says that neither the state nor anyone else shall discriminate on any grounds.

“We have a leader of political party, not Mmusi [Maimane], that he goes to a white lawyer because he thinks white lawyers are better and everyone laughs. We discriminate against ourselves and we must not do this,” he said. 

Yacoob also seized his opportunity at the podium to make an apparent jibe at Zuma.

He referenced the rules of the African National Congress in making his point.

“All members of the ANC are called to behave honestly and fundamentally, we need to have courage and behave honestly and ensure that others do so,” he said.

Read more on:    anc  |  thabo mbeki  |  zak yacoob  |  pretoria  |  politics

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