Former President Thabo Mbeki has lamented the African National Congress’ (ANC) performance and decline in the 2021 Local Government Elections. Mbeki was delivering the annual Chief Albert Luthuli Lecture on Friday.
The governing party dipped below 50% on the November 1 elections and subsequently lost power in Gauteng’s three metros. This led to the Democratic Alliance (DA) mayoral candidates ascending to the mayoralty in the City of Johannesburg, Tshwane and Ekurhuleni.
The lecture was held virtually this year due to the global COVID-19 pandemic under the theme “Africa and Freedom”.
It marks 60 years since Luthuli became the first African to receive the Nobel Peace Prize. Speaking on the renewal of the party, Mbeki looked at its performance at the polls.
2021 Chief Albert Luthuli Memorial Lecture:
The ANC at its 2002 Stellensbosch Conference resolved on growing its membership to over a million members. This was at the height of Thabo Mbeki’s reign as ANC president and President of the country.
Years on, the growth in the party’s membership was not equalled by quality but just quantity.
Rogue elements crept in. Vote-buying became the order of the day, party’s ethos and statue eroded and prompted former party President Thabo Mbeki to question who these people who have become ANC members are.
‘Better fewer but better’
Mbeki says the ANC is fraught with challenges of a membership that is not genuine members of the party. The ANC stands as accused number one of fraud, corruption and plundering of state resources for personal wealth accumulation by some.
“We have attracted into and continue to retain opportunists and careerists into outranks. These are the people who join the movement not because they respect or support any of the strategic objectives of our movement. They join with the aim of furthering their personal careers and using access to state power we have to enrich themselves.”
Mbeki goes further to say some municipal managers and senior government officials are pliable tools used by corrupt leaders to dance to their tune.
“There are people whilst holding their membership cards, don’t belong to the ANC but belong to the people who paid the subscriptions. These include unqualified people who get appointed to such positions as municipal managers, placement as men and women who serve as pliable tolls of their political masters and used to advance the interests of their masters.”
Since its 2017 Nasrec Conference, the ANC has been grappling with trying to renew itself and rid itself of the sins of incumbency.
Mbeki says the ANC owes South Africa its renewal. “THE ANC owes this country this renewal. Without this renewal, it will be impossible to deal with the scourge of corruption. Without this renewal, it will not be possible to build a capable state.”
With the ANC losing electoral support from election to election, Mbeki has called on the party to not retreat on the renewal project.
Former President Thabo Mbeki’s full speech: