President Mbeki pleads with nation

2007-12-06 00:00

PRESIDENT Thabo Mbeki said last night that he does not know why only four out of nine ANC provinces nominated him for the party presidency, despite all the achievements made by the government under his leadership.

“Well, I don’t know, I suppose the [ANC] membership would look at various issues,” that was his answer when asked why, despite all government’s achievements, his support seems to be on the decline.

The interview, broadcast on 15 SABC radio stations, was aimed at affording Mbeki, in his capacity as president of the ANC, a chance to articulate some of his positions on matters relating to the upcoming elective conference in Limpopo.

Mbeki said he is not worried about the outcome of the nomination process, as the votes were “expressions of the democratic processes within the ANC”.

In itself, this should not be worrying but it is the manner in which it is handled that should be of concern. “It should be handled in a way that does not lead to entrenched divisions within [the party],” he said, warning that ANC members need to accept the “consequences” of their choices.

“We really need to accept the consequences of our own affirmation of the democratic processes within the ANC,” he said.

Still on the issue of nominations, Mbeki touched on the contentious issue of 50% women’s representation in the leadership structures, stressing that it is a collective policy decision of the ANC, not the party president.

Mbeki disputed that there would be “two centres of power” should Jacob Zuma be elected party leader, while he remains at the helm of the government.

“Throughout the past 13 years the programmes and policies adopted by the government have always been programmes and policies of the ANC … I’m quite certain that the notion of two centres ofpower … is wrong.”

Mbeki also said:

• Floor-crossing needs to be discussed further and did not originate from the ANC.

• He never said he would consider calling an early general election should Zuma take over. He was misquoted.

• On the configuration of provinces, he said some of the tasks discharged by provinces could be carried out at local level.

• He has always consulted the party structures in decisions, thus denying the accusation of centralising power.

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