28/10/2017 11:00 SAST | Updated 28/10/2017 11:00 SAST

Thabo Mbeki: Two Centres Of Power Would Have Posed No Problem

The ANC in 2007 feared conflict between the Union Buildings and Luthuli House.

Thabo Mbeki and Jacob Zuma embrace at the ANC's national conference at Polokwane in 2007.
Thabo Mbeki and Jacob Zuma embrace at the ANC's national conference at Polokwane in 2007.

The ANC made a grave mistake by linking ANC leadership positions to government positions, former president Thabo Mbeki said during his OR Tambo lecture at Wits University on Friday night. Mbeki said the decision to link these two centres of power has resulted in the political killings as seen in KwaZulu-Natal.

In the run-up to the Polokwane national Conference, Mbeki said a "spurious argument" emerged of a "non-existent problem of two centres of power".

This resulted in the decision that a person elected as president of the ANC would be the party's candidate for the position of President of the Republic as well that provincial chairs of the party would ascend to provincial Premier, he said.

The ANC's Polokwane resolution meant a complete U-turn from its prior decision in the 1997 Mahikeng conference that those elected to leadership positions should be ready to discharge their responsibilities with no expectation that their positions entitled them to positions in government.

''This unfortunate decision meant that formally the ANC took the decision that occupation of senior positions in the ANC was the guaranteed route of access to state power, exactly the kind of understanding which the movement had sought to discourage among the membership as a whole.''

Mbeki added that corruption and self enrichment within the ANC had begun creeping into the movement during former President Nelson Mandela's term

Quoting Mandela's political report at the party's 1997 National Conference, he said the late icon told delegates that, ''Many among our members see their membership of the ANC as a means to advance their personal ambitions to attain positions of power and access to resources for their own individual gratification.''

Almost 20 years later, in his diagnostic report, ANC Secretary General Gwede Mantashe said that being in power was ''rapidly becoming a source of political bankruptcy, as ANC members fight for deployment either as councillors, MPLs and MPs – respectively, as if there is 'no tomorrow.''

''The fact of the matter is that during the last two decades the ANC has failed to do the two things which Nelson Mandela mentioned in 1997 – to purge itself of the mercenaries who had joined its ranks and to make it difficult for such elements to join the Movement,'' Mbeki added. Mbeki warned that he numbers of those who see the ANC as a mere tool to access political power and corruptly acquired wealth would increase.

''This means that the historic value system of the ANC has become so corrupted that its replacement, that is unprincipled access to political power and the related corrupt self-enrichment has in fact become the norm within the organisation," he told attendees.

Mbeki encouraged those within the ranks of the ANC remained genuine members who are honestly committed to its historic value system to take the necessary steps to change its self-destructive course or face the party's destruction.

''As the first step these members of the ANC must genuinely accept that the Movement is immersed in a deep crisis and then proceed to characterise the source and nature of the problem, as Oliver Tambo did, which twice saved the ANC from destruction, understanding that without a correct diagnosis, there can be no effective and successful cure,'' he said. -- News24Wire