/ 26 April 2024

Mbeki on ANC campaign trail for first time since Zuma became party president

Former president Thabo Mbeki. Photo: Felix Dlangamandla/Gallo Images

Former president Thabo Mbeki has denied that he appears to have changed his mind about campaigning for the ANC, having refused to do so since 2007 after the party elected his predecessor, Jacob Zuma, as its president. 

Mbeki told journalists while on the campaign trail on Thursday at Jabulani Mall, Soweto, that he had been a member of the ANC for more than 60 years and had an obligation to campaign for the party. 

“You must take into account that for all of these years that you are talking about, I have always been a member of the ANC and as a member of the ANC I must take responsibility of what the ANC does or doesn’t do. The rights and wrongs — it’s our fault and I’m part of that,” he said.

“When the ANC goes out and says elect us in order that we do the following, it’s the responsibility of all members of the ANC including myself. It’s our responsibility as senior leaders that we do the right things in terms of what the demands of the people are.”

In an interview with Eyewitness News last year, Mbeki said his answer to the question of whether he would campaign for the governing party was pending, adding that there were many things going wrong in the movement that were not being attended to.

The former president has recently criticised the ANC and its leader, Cyril Rampahosa, for failing to implement its renewal project.   

In an interview with the SABC last month, Mbeki said he would campaign for the ANC as he had an obligation to do so, drawing criticism from Economic Freedom Fighters leader Julius Malema who said the former statesman was a flip-flopper. 

On Thursday, Mbeki said he had never changed his mind about campaigning for the ANC but that it was important for the party to attend to its internal problems. He said people would see a lot of him on the campaign trail, but this did not mean he had put aside the concerns he had raised before.

He said his concerns had also been raised by other South Africans and that they were genuine and must be attended to.

“I came to Jabulani to ask the people of Soweto to vote for the ANC on 29 May. I have not been in Soweto for a long time but I think the response is very good. We will come here again because I think it is important that we should return the ANC to power,” he said.

“I know there are many problems within the country, even problems within the ANC. As we say vote ANC, we are saying we will attend to the problems within the ANC itself to make sure it is able to discharge the responsibilities of the population.”