Back in the fold: Mbeki to attend ANC centenary bash

Barely a month after breaking his hiatus from South African politics, former president Thabo Mbeki on Tuesday confirmed his attendance at the ANC’s centenary celebrations in Mangaung.

“I can confirm that Mr Mbeki will be there in his position as a former president of the ANC,” Mbeki’s spokesperson Mukoni Ratshitanga told the Mail & Guardian.

Ratshitanga could not confirm if Mbeki would address delegates during the seven-day-long celebrations.

This is the first time Mbeki will be present at an ANC event of this magnitude since his ousting from the presidency in 2008.

Mbeki broke a two-year political silence in December 2011, when he reacted strongly to comments made by Judge Willem Heath during his week-long stint in charge of the Special Investigations Unit.

Heath reignited pre-Polokwane rumours of Mbeki’s attempts to trash Zuma’s political career through corruption and rape charges.

In a terse statement, Mbeki lambasted Heath’s utterances and invited him to show proof of his allegations.

Following the statement, Heath was forced to resign.

‘Part of protocol’
When asked about Mbeki’s attendance, the ANC maintained it is “part of protocol” for a former party president to attend the party’s centenary celebrations.

The party also said he might address delegates during proceedings.

“He could make an address on Saturday during the gala dinner, but only President [Jacob] Zuma will be speaking when the January 8th statement is made on Sunday,” Keith Khoza told the M&G.

The ANC Youth League said it was “extremely happy” Mbeki would be attending celebrations in Mangaung.

“It is highly appreciated that comrade Mbeki will be making an appearance. We are always happy to connect with our former leader—especially a great one like Mbeki,” said youth league secretary general Sindiso Magaqa.

During league president Julius Malema’s disciplinary hearing in 2011, it was understood there could be a push by the youth body for Mbeki to run for the position of ANC chairperson at the party elective conference at the end of 2012.

“As a veteran of the ANC, he played his role in building a strong movement and he can continue to do so in the future by contributing to any ANC programme he wishes,” said Magaqa.

Follow the Mail & Guardian‘s coverage of the ANC’s 100th anniversary.

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Nickolaus Bauer

Nickolaus Bauer

Nickolaus Bauer is the Mail & Guardian's jack of all trades news reporter that chases down stories ranging from politics and sports to big business and social justice. Armed with an iPad, SLR camera, camcorder and dictaphone, he aims to fight ignorance and pessimism through written words, photographs and videos. He believes South Africa could be the greatest country in the world if only her citizens would give her a chance to flourish instead of dwell on the negativity. When he's not begging his sub-editors for an extra twenty minutes after deadline, he's also known to dabble in the occasional poignant column that will leave you mulling around in the depths of your psyche. The quintessential workaholic, you can also catch him doing sports on the weekday breakfast show on SAfm and presenting the SAfm Sports Special over the weekend. Read more from Nickolaus Bauer

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