Mbeki Blasts The ANC For Narrowing The Land Debate On Race

Leaked memo reveals Thabo Mbeki Foundation's opposition to ANC approach to land. PICTURE: Daily Maverick

JOHANNESBURG: Former President Thabo Mbeki did not mince his words in giving his opinion on the ANC’s handling of land reform.

According to Mbeki, the ANC has lost its core identity which is centred around its historical values and nonracialism. Mbeki believes that the party has grossly framed the land reform debate around black versus white.

These criticisms were laid bare by the former president in a 30-page paper that was published by the Thabo Mbeki Foundation. At the forefront of his criticisms of the party were ex-ANC figures like Jacob Zuma and Julius Malema, who as he indicated, were the reason why the ruling party had moved far away from what it once was.

Mbeki throws his weight on the current ideologies of the ANC

The Sowetan, reported that the posture of some leaders in the ANC, the paper says, mirrors more the position of the EFF than that of the governing party that is long established through its history and former leaders as well as the Freedom Charter.

The foundation points to comments by former president Jacob Zuma in parliament in February when he called on ‘black parties’ in parliament to unite to obtain a two-thirds majority to amend the constitution to allow for land expropriation without compensation.

Mbeki, in the paper, admitted that the issue of land and gross inequality in South Africa is an important conversation to have. However, he believes that it should be done with the intent to, in the end, unite South Africa.

Mbeki identifies Zuma as a person behind the ‘new’ ANC mindset

Furthermore, he also stated that: “Jacob Zuma was advancing a perspective about the ‘resolution of the national question’ radically different from the long-established and historic position of the ANC… as part of this, he [Zuma] also made bold to change the very nature of the ANC, characterizing it as a ‘black party’.

“It might be that at that time, many in the ANC did not understand that what Zuma was advancing was, in fact, a fundamental redefinition of both what the ANC is and its historic mission.”

Mbeki also indicated that South Africa should have progressed towards a new age when the parliamentary process influenced the removal of Zuma in the president’s seat.

Also, he challenged the black majority in parliament to make decisions on critical issues, independent of the constraints of their party’s rhetoric.

Ralph Mathekga, a political analyst, concurred with the former president’s position.

“We have a very stifled policy environment where politics are seen in terms of ‘us against them’. This is a very cogent observation [by Mbeki] of the ANC, which has shifted from multi-racialism, from inclusivity to the ANC that’s set on implementing a policy as long as that policy is seen to be in the interest of the majority”, he stated.

When asked to provide more clarity on its position, the Thabo Mbeki Foundation indicated that it would not do so as it an internal discussion document and it does not know how the document circulated on social media