Mbeki: It's all going swimmingly

The African National Congress was still united and meeting challenges, President Thabo Mbeki said.

Speaking in an interview on South African Broadcasting Corporation television on Monday, Mbeki said: “The ANC is doing very well. We are making good progress with the challenges before us.”

He acknowledged there still were many challenges ahead for the party.

“But we are well-placed to deal with these.”

Mbeki said he had visited the provincial structures of the party and said the leaders, as well as the members, were “focused”.

Regarding speculation as to who would succeed him, Mbeki said the processes for electing a new leader were “well-established”.

He said despite reports that certain people were campaigning and that someone had clearly been earmarked to become the next leader, the processes would take place at their appointed time.

He said the rate of economic growth had been underestimated.

“For example, electricity supply did not keep up with the demand. We thought we had spare capacity, but now we have a shortage and we must address that.”

Mbeki said the government would have to invest more money in roads, ports, railways and electricity supply to keep up with economic growth.

“It is a problem, but it is a good problem,” he said.

He said the government would also encourage the private sector to become involved.

Mbeki said there was also a problem at the local government level regarding capital investment in infrastructure.

“We can have good national strategies and plans and even the money, but if local government doesn’t implement these, it doesn’t work.”

He said the government had a plan to deal with this.

“That is why people are being called out of retirement and why we are also looking elsewhere to see where we can borrow people with the necessary expertise to implement government’s plans and strategies.”

He also mentioned the culture of wealth accumulation among South Africans as something that had to be fought.

Due to the “evolution” of South Africa into a democratic society, a value system based on material things being a measure of a person’s success had become entrenched, Mbeki said.

“This is not a new thing ...
this has been around for a long time.”

Mbeki said people must rediscover the principle of ubuntu. 

“We must rediscover what this value system means. You can’t say you practice ubuntu, but then you steal your grandmother’s pension money.”

On the pressing issue of crime, and the damage it was causing to the country’s image, Mbeki admitted it was something of a concern, but said it was wrong to suggest crime was uncontrollable.

“There is crime but this does not mean it is out of control,” he said.

He blamed certain South Africans for not being “careful” on how they communicated the issue of crime. He said it was the way in which they communicated that created the perception that crime was out of control in the country.

Asked about recent international media reports implicating a number of South Africans, including former defence minister Joe Modise, in a British probe on corruption between British arms companies and foreign government officials, Mbeki said the British government had not yet spoken to him about the matter.

“I have heard about this but as far as I know the British government haven’t raised this with us,” Mbeki said.

He maintained that South Africa’s arms deal bidding process was “perfectly correct” and not affected by any corruption. - Sapa

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