thabo mbeki

Former South African President Thabo Mbeki makes a point. Photo: FILE

ANC used for jobs: Thabo Mbeki rips into his party

Former President Thabo Mbeki has torn into his own party. Corruption, unemployment and declining membership numbers? Mbeki has had his say.

thabo mbeki

Former South African President Thabo Mbeki makes a point. Photo: FILE

Thabo Mbeki is a former South African and ANC president. He’s also not known for shying away from being critical of his own party. Well, Mbeki has done exactly that again. This time, while delivering the 2021 Chief Albert Luthuli Memorial Lecture on Friday evening.

Thabo Mbeki’s view on the ANC in 2021

Mbeki began by highlighting an admission made by Nelson Mandela in 1997. The ANC has a problem with dealing with members who join the party for personal gain.

According to Mbeki, the ANC’s declining support at the polls is directly linked to the deteriorating quality of the ANC’s membership. And it’s not just in the last few years, Mbeki is talking about as far back as 2006.

“This means on average it [the ANC] lost 4.7% support on each election, this, the continuous degradation and the quality of the membership of the ANC emphasizes that all ANC conferences for two decades, for the two decades between 1997 and 2019 contributed directly to the sustained loss of electoral support by the ANC.”

Thabo Mbeki

He went one step further too. Mbeki did what almost everyone in the ANC is seemingly unable to do. That’s state the obvious. According to Mbeki, it is way too easy for opportunists to sign up to become ANC members.

“The result I am talking about is that we have attracted into and continued to retain opportunists and careerists within our ranks. These are the people who join the movement not because they respect or support any of the strategic objectives of our movement. They join with great ease that our procedures as a mass movement permit. With the sole aim of furthering their personal careers and using their access to state power we have as a ruling party to enrich themselves.”

Mbeki said on Friday

So how does Mbeki see a way out of this situation for the ANC? He says the party needs to “liberate itself” from these kinds of people. Going forward, the party must take a stance of “better fewer but better”.

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Mbeki, the ANC and unemployment

Mbeki then turned his attention to the critical levels of unemployment in the country. He criticised his party for allowing the unemployment rate to go from 21% in 2008, to almost 35% in the third quarter of this year.

Mbeki says that millions of the unemployed have continued to grow in number. That’s despite the ANC’s plans and work. According to the former president, this shows that the country’s economy is in crisis.

With an economy in crisis and declining support, will the ANC be able to secure a majority in 2024? Even Thabo Mbeki is not sharing his thoughts on that one.