Mbeki's recall strengthened bad elements in ANC - Pahad

2016-06-23 12:53
Thabo Mbeki. (File, AFP)

Thabo Mbeki. (File, AFP)

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Johannesburg - Former president Thabo Mbeki's recall strengthened bad elements in the ANC, and this is still true, eight years on, former minister in the presidency Essop Pahad has said.

Pahad, who now edits a magazine, The Thinker, said this in a 22-page contribution to a newly-published book titled The Thabo Mbeki I Know, which was supported by the Thabo Mbeki Foundation.

Pahad started his piece recounting his first meeting with Mbeki in Johannesburg, and ended it with thoughts on Mbeki's recall in 2008.

The ANC's "act in recalling Thabo Mbeki was one that I think led it into some disrepute", Pahad, who was also a senior leader in the ANC, wrote.

"The long-term impact has been that it has introduced wrong ways of working inside the organisation. Some of the bad elements were there already and what has happened is that the bad elements in the ANC have been strengthened in a way that is not in the interests of the organisation. This remains true to this day."

He said Mbeki's resignation, following a decision by the national executive committee headed by President Jacob Zuma, showed his "capacity to take rational decisions even though they impacted negatively on his own life".

Recall 'very painful and tragic'

Pahad said neither Mbeki nor any of his ministers knew what they would do after his resignation. "In the end we needed to respect the way President Mbeki handled the matter and the way that he went onto national television and the calm manner in which he announced that he was stepping down," he wrote.

"I think that the long-term impact has been negative for the ANC. One hopes that, as time goes on, the ANC leadership will work in such a way that there is no repeat of what happened.

"There really was no reason to ask Thabo Mbeki to step down. The elections were coming in seven months."

Pahad said Mbeki's recall was "very painful and tragic" for Mbeki himself as well as those who worked with him because of the way their comrades had acted. "It was painful because the top leadership of this organisation that we had given our lives to and that we will still continue to love and respect, could behave in the manner that they did.

"The organisation had taken a step that had never before been made in its history and it was really tragic that the NEC could arrive at that decision not fully comprehending its enormity. It put the ANC in a very difficult position and it also led to the formation of the Congress of the People."


Pahad said historians, should they be able to find people "who can really talk about what actually happened in that fateful NEC meeting", would find "the decision was arrived at mainly because there were some people who felt determined to see the humiliation of Thabo Mbeki".

He said, however, Mbeki wasn't the only one humiliated, but the whole ANC, "and that is what makes it so much sadder. As I said, the ANC will always remain our organisation and we will always remain faithful to it".

Pahad, however, said the decision to ask Kgalema Motlanthe, who served as minister in the presidency before being appointed president after Mbeki’s sacking, and then deputy president under Zuma, was a good one.

Prior to serving in government Motlanthe's "experience had been in the unions and in the ANC as secretary general and so I do think that this was a very good learning curve for him. It was a good decision, even if it was taken for the wrong reasons".

Read more on:    anc  |  thabo mbeki  |  essop pahad  |  johannesburg

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