09/03/2017 12:18 SAST | Updated 09/03/2017 12:29 SAST

People Are Joining The ANC For Self-enrichment, Says Mbeki

"So you join, and so that I can become a minister, mayor, president or something. And the reason you want to access this power is for self-enrichment."

Mikhail Metzel/TASS

Former president Thabo Mbeki has spoken out about corruption in South Africa, saying it requires people who have a vision for a better Africa to fight it.

"There's a level of political commitment you need to fight [corruption] before you come to institutions. Effectiveness of institutions depends on the effectiveness of the people. You can have beautiful institutions on paper, but if you have no people to ensure they work effectively, then you have a problem," he told ambassadors and high-level delegates at an event in Johannesburg to commemorate the African Peer Review Mechanism's (APRM) 14th birthday.

Mbeki also admitted that corruption has been plaguing the ANC for years, and even older party members joined for opportunistic reasons like to get leadership positions.

"The ANC raised a problem repeatedly ... what we were picking up was that there were people who were joining the ANC, not because they upheld the values and perspectives and aspirations of the ANC, but because it was an instrument to access state power.

"So you join, and so that I can become a minister, mayor, president or something. And the reason you want to access this power is for self-enrichment.

"This matter is discussed in documents of the ANC for the last I don't know how many years," he said. "Here is a challenge, this is a problem, even old members of the ANC are now abusing this membership to access state power to enrich themselves."

Mbeki said it was a difficult issue to fight because joining the ANC was easy: "You pay subscription [you look at], some requirements about membership, policy and all that, which is not difficult. So I would go and pay my annual subscription, and recite whatever policy thing, and I'm a member. There's no way of telling that this one is joining for this other purpose."

Mbeki said it was difficult to sift these people.

"The first defence we have against this is a level of commitment to the kind of Africa we seek to build. I think if you do not have people committed to the kind of Africa that is envisaged in the APRM, you won't have the possibility to fight against this corruption."

Mbeki did not name any of his colleagues or successors.

"In the end the people who pay for the corruption are the ordinary poor people. So that kind of mobilisation to say corruption is our common enemy as ordinary people, that becomes important," he said.

Mbeki told the tale of a dodgy business card he once received after meeting a minister from one of the African countries, which he did not name.

Mbeki said he looked at the card. "On the one side it's got his name, his address and telephone numbers and so on in this particular country."

On the reverse side, it's got his name, minister of such and such address and telephone numbers ... in Paris. So this side of the card he's at home in Africa, on the other side he is in France. So I think, I wouldn't be surprised if he was also looting state resources. This is a kind of schizophrenic African."

The APRM is an instrument to enable African governments to review each other's governance and Mbeki was one of the founding fathers.