Mantashe: The ANC is still cleaning up Mbeki's mess

Gwede Mantashe said by criticising the current ANC leadership, Mbeki was running the risk of failing to appreciate the fact that “we are mopping the mess that was left by them [Mbeki's regime]” (Oupa Nkosi, M&G)

Gwede Mantashe said by criticising the current ANC leadership, Mbeki was running the risk of failing to appreciate the fact that “we are mopping the mess that was left by them [Mbeki's regime]” (Oupa Nkosi, M&G)

ANC secretary general Gwede Mantashe has hit back at former president Thabo Mbeki who criticised the ANC under the leadership of President Jacob Zuma for the “current crisis” in the country and for disregarding the Constitution.

Mbeki was speaking during a panel discussion at an event to celebrate the adoption of the Constitution.

Addressing the media from Luthuli House – the ANC’s headquarters in Johannesburg – on Tuesday, Mantashe took a swipe at Mbeki, suggesting that the crisis in the country and within the ANC was created by his regime.

Some political commentators have in the past blamed Mbeki for President Jacob Zuma’s elevation as the ANC and the country’s president. A number of ANC members supported Zuma’s election during the ANC’s Polokwane national conference in 2007 as a protest against Mbeki’s leadership style, more than the fact that they believed he was a good leader. Mbeki at the time was accused of using state resources to target political opponents and for centralising power in government.

Mantashe said by criticising the current ANC leadership, Mbeki was running the risk of failing to appreciate the fact that “we are mopping the mess that was left by them [Mbeki’s regime]”

“That is part of their denialism, that they leave a mess we are mopping it up, they say we are in denial. I don’t want to get into that space. I [will] leave it to people who are courageous enough to get into that space,” said Mantashe.

No respect for the Constitution
Mbeki had previously said that the ANC leadership, because of its struggle credentials in the fight for freedom, had more responsibility to understand and respect the Constitution.

“This must be a daily document that helps us to act, it might save us from doing wrong things, including the president,” said the former president in a thinly veiled swipe at Zuma.

Last month, the Constitutional Court found that Zuma had failed to uphold the Constitution by failing to comply with the public protector’s remedial action to pay back a portion of the R246-million used for security upgrades at his rural Nkandla homestead.

Mbeki said the ANC leadership must stop lying to itself and face reality.

“The leadership should not tell lies to itself but understand the situation in the country, all the challenges and indeed why it was elected. You go to Parliament not only to represent the people but to demonstrate this by the interventions you make to solve the problems facing you,” said Mbeki.

But Mantashe believes the current leadership has done well in some areas, but that the media was deliberately ignoring those achievements.

“Any good story from the ANC is not newsworthy. Anything that is seen as undermining the ANC is newsworthy. It is like that here, and it is like that in every country in the region. The media position itself to resuscitate opposition to the liberation movements. It’s an issue that worries us. In southern Africa, the west has bankrolled the anti-government media houses,” said Mantashe.

Mantashe said the ANC took the damning Constitutional Court ruling against President Zuma seriously, and that the party was in a process of engaging all its branches throughout the country on how to move forward regarding the matter.

Spy tapes saga
While Mantashe defended the ANC, he acknowledged that some leaders within the governing party have scored own goals after they were implicated in corruption scandals. This, Matashe said, was used as ammunition by the so-called regime change elements, to attack the ANC.

He said there was little the ANC could do regarding the recent high court ruling which set aside the decision by former national director of public prosecutions Mokotedi Mpshe to withdraw 783 criminal charges against Zuma.

“On spy tapes, there is nothing to deal with at this stage. All it [the high court judgment] has done, it has taken us back to 2007. There are no charges [against Zuma]. So there is nothing to deal with [for] now,” said Mantashe.

NPA boss  Shaun Abrahams has until next week to decide whether to reinstate criminal charges against Zuma or appeal the high court decision.

 
Matuma Letsoalo

Matuma Letsoalo

Matuma Letsoalo is the political editor of the Mail & Guardian. He joined the newspaper in 2003 and has won numerous awards since then, including the regional award for Vodacom Journalist of the Year in the economics and finance category in 2015, SA Journalist of the Year in 2011, the Mondi Shanduka SA Story of the Year award in 2008 and CNN African Journalist of the Year – MKO Abiola Print Journalism in 2004. Read more from Matuma Letsoalo

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