We deceived ourselves about corruption – Thabo Mbeki

2013-10-06 14:00

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Former president Thabo Mbeki says South Africans need to mobilise and combat the scourge of corruption.

Addressing congregants at the Bethesda Methodist Church in the north of Johannesburg on Thursday night, Mbeki said people had a duty to respond to corruption because they knew who was guilty.

He said the pressure against corruption should “come from below”.

“If we don’t do that, I’m afraid we are not going to get very far with regard to addressing this challenge.

“I was told not so long ago about this traffic officer who owns and rents out apartment buildings. Where did the money come from? People know him,” he said.

“Many of us who lived on the rest of the continent always deceived ourselves and said this kind of corruption that we see will never happen in South Africa. We were wrong.”

Ironically, Mbeki used his ANC blog 10 years ago to criticise the media for being “fishers of corrupt men and women” when it questioned the government’s multibillion-rand arms deal.

Also in his Thursday-night speech, Mbeki suggested it was a mistake for civil society to demobilise after the ANC came into power in 1994.

“Our experience over the last 20 years has shown that indeed people must themselves become their own liberators. You cannot wait for somebody else to come and rescue you.

“I do hope we part ways with any Messiah Complex. Fortunately, we don’t have any messiahs,” he said, responding to an audience member’s question about whether people like himself and Nelson Mandela had created the idea of leaders as messiahs.

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