Malema tries to get Mbeki to endorse the EFF for local elections with house visit

Former president Thabo Mbeki bids adieu to the EFF after their visit. (Twitter)

Former president Thabo Mbeki bids adieu to the EFF after their visit. (Twitter)

Mandela, Motlanthe, and now, Thabo Mbeki. As election season rumbles to a close, the campaigns continue and bygone presidents are doing the work to nab votes for current leaders.

Photographs of Malema and Mbeki shaking hands, and then sitting down together in a stately room, and finally Mbeki bidding the EFF officials who rocked up outside his Johannesburg home adieu.

Is Mbeki endorsing the EFF? Has he given up on the ANC? What about that time Malema got booted from the presidency?

Those were the predominant reactions that followed when the photos were released.
Mbeki reportedly said that his vote on 3 August would remain a secret, while Malema sent an equally cryptic tweet out after the meeting.

“Just had interesting discussions with President Mbeki about the future of Africa & our country,” Malema tweeted.

In less than 48 hours, South Africans will cast their ballots, and while party campaigning has officially ended, the EFF vied for one last significant vote. If Mbeki had come out and announced he was voting EFF, the party would have nabbed his vote along with any of his sympatherisers who still diligently follow the former president.

Speaking at a press briefing at party headquarters Luthuli House, ANC secretary general Gwede Mantashe reacted to the news by saying that leaders of the ANC can meet with whoever they please and there was nothing special in it.

While chatter has begun to find out what exactly was going on between Mbeki and Malema, the battle for Nelson Mandela is still continuing between the Democratic Alliance and the African National Congress.

On Sunday, Winnie Madikizela-Mandela rolled up fashionably late to the ANC’s Siyanqoba rally and scowled at the DA’s use of Mandela in its election campaign advertisements, calling the party “morally and intellectually” bankrupt. President Jacob Zuma then took the mic, quoting a speech Mandela made in 2000, to discredit the DA.

“Madiba also warned our people and our country about the DA, which runs Cape Town: ‘You must not be misled by a party that only cares for blacks on the eve of the elections. No white party can run this country … no matter how they cover up by getting a few black stooges, they (the whites) remain the bosses … they remain a white party’,” said Zuma.

Despite the criticism that the party has been dealt, the DA has been unwavering in its continuing use of Mandela to campaign for votes. In his speech in Dobsonville, Soweto, at the DA’s finally campaign rally on Saturday, Maimane quoted one of Mandela’s most well-recognised one-liners: “If the ANC does to you what the apartheid government did to you, then you must do to the ANC what you did to the apartheid government.”

“People are using the freedom that Nelson Mandela gave them to make a different choice.They are doing it for Madiba. In a democracy, you don’t need to be loyal to a party forever. When a party betrays you, you have a chance to punish it,” Maimane continued.

  While the two parties fight it out over who owns Mandela, Kgalema Motlanthe, too, has been brought into the fray. The former ANC deputy president (and placeholder State president) perhaps put himself there by criticising the ANC’s leadership in an interview with City Press, but he has also stepped out of retirement and helped ANC leaders in their election campaign.

It’s clear that political leaders aren’t just banking on their own popularity to win votes. The use of icons and former presidents to grab attention and support is nothing new, but this year the battle for legacies, and for ANC veteran leaders to abandon their party, has been fiercer.

As yet, however, no party seems to have knocked on former National Party leader FW de Klerk’s door.

Ra'eesa Pather

Ra'eesa Pather

Ra’eesa Pather is a general news journalist with the Mail & Guardian’s online team. She cut her teeth at The Daily Vox in Cape Town before moving to Johannesburg and joining the M&G. She's written about memory, race and gender in columns and features, and has dabbled in photography. Read more from Ra'eesa Pather