Mbeki: ANC is on the brink of “extinction”

In a bold speech to honour the memory of OR Tambo, former president Thabo Mbeki delivered a fiery criticism of the ANC, saying the party has failed its own heroes.

Friday marks OR Tambo’s centenary birthday in what has been declared the ‘Year of OR Tambo’ by the South African government under the theme, “Life and Legacy of Mr OR Tambo”.

OR Tambo was one of the founding members of the ANC youth league in 1943, alongside Nelson Mandela and Walter Sisulu and he served as president of the ANC from 1969 to 1991, making him the longest serving president.

To commemorate Tambo’s life and legacy on October 27, the University of Witwatersrand hosted a lecture given by Mbeki. And Mbeki took the opportunity to join a chorus of voices that have criticised the party under Zuma’s leadership.

“We are at a time of great stress”, said the former president.

He continued:“It is a critical time in the ANC’s history” where the party faces “a third threat of extinction”.

Allegations of corruption aren’t new to the party, Mbeki reminded his audience as he recounted the near destruction of the ANC in the 1940s and 1960s. The former president’s warning seemed to be that history is on the verge of repeating itself.

In the 1940s, Mbeki said, corruption in the ANC and “self-serving leaders almost led to the organisation’s disappearance”.

It was in the 1940s that OR Tambo began playing a key role in the movement as a member of the African National Congress Youth League (ANCYL).

The subsequent strength and unity of the ANC in the 1960s led the apartheid government to become increasingly fearful of the party and other liberation movements.

The ANC, as well as other anti-apartheid organisations, was banned in South Africa. In yet another period of danger to its existence, Mbeki regaled how the party relied on mass struggle, international solidarity and its own underground movement to survive.

Mbeki noted how Tambo was a key tactician and said the end of apartheid would have been impossible without him.

“OR Tambo is the father of South Africa’s democracy,” he said.

Mbeki highlighted Tambo’s principled character, his honesty and intellect as a model for South Africans, and in particular genuine ANC members.

To move forward, Mbeki has encouraged ANC members to “go against the entrenched rapacious and corrupt values” which, he said, have become the norm in the ANC since 2007 – the year that Zuma was elected ANC president.

OR Tambo was the longest serving ANC president and he founded the ANC Youth League alongside Nelson Mandela. After 50 years in politics, Tambo died in 1993, a year shy of witnessing South Africa transition into democracy.

Oliver, Oliver mfo ka Tambo thina sigxothiwe ekhaya.

(Oliver, Oliver son of Tambo, we have been expelled from our home)

Sizozabalaza, sizozabalaza

(We will struggle (fight). We will struggle)

These are unprecedented times, and the role of media to tell and record the story of South Africa as it develops is more important than ever. But it comes at a cost. Advertisers are cancelling campaigns, and our live events have come to an abrupt halt. Our income has been slashed.

The Mail & Guardian is a proud news publisher with roots stretching back 35 years. We’ve survived thanks to the support of our readers, we will need you to help us get through this.

To help us ensure another 35 future years of fiercely independent journalism, please subscribe.


Nehawu launches urgent court bid over protective gear for health...

The health workers’ union says the government has rebuffed its attempts to meet about mitigating risks to workers

Stay at home, Cyril said. But what about the homeless?

In Tshwane, forcing homeless people off the street resulted in chaos and the abuse of a vulnerable population. In Durban, a smooth, well-planned operation fared far better

Press Releases

New energy mix on the cards

REI4P already has and will continue to yield thousands of employment opportunities

The online value of executive education in a Covid-19 world

Executive education courses further develop the skills of leaders in the workplace

Sisa Ntshona urges everyone to stay home, and consider travelling later

Sisa Ntshona has urged everyone to limit their movements in line with government’s request

SAB Zenzele’s special AGM postponed until further notice

An arrangement has been announced for shareholders and retailers to receive a 77.5% cash payout

20th Edition of the National Teaching Awards

Teachers are seldom recognised but they are indispensable to the country's education system

Awards affirm the vital work that teachers do

Government is committed to empowering South Africa’s teachers with skills, knowledge and techniques for a changing world

SAB Zenzele special AGM rescheduled to March 25 2020

New voting arrangements are being made to safeguard the health of shareholders