MBEKI FURY OVER BLADE COMMENT
Foundation writes letter demanding answers about ‘imperial presidency’
FORMER president Thabo Mbeki has been left seething after SACP leader Blade Nzimande likened his administration to that of President Jacob Zuma.
Mbeki said there were no Gupta emails during his tenure.
He viewed in a “very serious light” remarks by Nzimande at the recent Cosatu meeting which included that there were illegal abuses of state resources to target Zuma’s opponents in the same way Mbeki did. The former statesman took issue with Nzimande’s comment that “everything” that happened during the Mbeki era, including phone tappings of tripartite alliance leaders, was happening now under Zuma.
“There were e-mails then. There are e-mails now that appeared…” and “there is a rogue intelligence unit that operates outside the law which is listening to other comrades… the very same thing esasiyilwe’ kuMbeki (we fought Mbeki on) is happening today,” Nzimande said.
Yesterday, Thabo Mbeki Foundation head of communications Thami Ntenteni told The Star that Mbeki was clear Nzimande’s comments were a distortion of historical facts and that his comparison of the Mbeki and Zuma eras was far from the truth.
“There were no Gupta emails during the Mbeki era, and there were no state capture allegations.
“Why then this comparison? There is an attempt to drag Mbeki’s name through the whole state capture narrative. We view Nzimande’s remarks in a very, very serious light.”
A trove of emails has since emerged showing the influence of the Gupta family in state appointments, how Zuma’s son, Duduzane Zuma was effectively involved in the running of state affairs and how the controversial brothers sponsored lavish hotel stays in Dubai for some cabinet ministers.
Last Thursday, Mbeki penned a letter to Nzimande in which he called on him to give a detailed account of how his alleged “imperial presidential system” manifested itself, and how the then “hoax e-mails” compare with the recent alleged “Gupta e-mails”, among others.
The saga over the hoax e-mails sharply divided the ANC in 2005. The e-mails were allegedly written by senior ANC and government officials to influence the ruling party’s choice of a successor to Mbeki by discrediting Zuma and former ANC secretary-general Kgalema Motlanthe.
Ntenteni cautioned leaders against making “blanket and sweeping statements”.
“It’s not true that what’s happening now also happened during the Mbeki administration,” he said.
What really peeved Mbeki was that Nzimande said Mbeki was recalled for wanting to “create an imperial presidency”.
“Look, if Zuma has ambitions for an imperial presidential system, how does that relate to the Mbeki administration?
“Where are the facts that he wanted an imperial presidency?
“As far as we know, the reasons given by the ANC at the time of Mbeki’s recall was that it had lost confidence in him based on a judgment by Judge Chris Nicholson, which was subsequently overturned by the Supreme Court of Appeal. It’s the first time we hear that he wanted to create an imperial presidency.”
When he delivered his judgment in 2008, Nicholson slated Mbeki for “meddling” in Zuma’s corruption case.
The ANC wasted no time in recalling him as president, a mere few months before his second term was due to end.
Ntenteni said there was no deadline for Nzimande to provide the requested information and they were not taking legal action.
In the latter, Mbeki said all the “valuable information” Nzimande would provide would help to explain the historic and historical significance of what happened during the period leading up to, during, and after the 2007 ANC national conference in Polokwane.
At the elective conference, Zuma beat Mbeki to become ANC president, paving the way for him to become the country’s president in 2009.
SACP spokesperson Alex Mashilo said they had not received Mbeki’s letter and that Nzimande too hadn’t seen it.
“He (Nzimande) heard about it for the first time when I called him, following media enquires. It’s unfair for us to comment on a letter we have not seen.”
He said it was “surprising” that the letter was first received by the media.
In February, Nzimande, speaking at Mbeki’s inauguration as Unisa’s new chancellor, praised the former president as one of the greatest intellectuals the governing ANC has ever produced.
“Despite whatever differences we might have had, since I have known you from 1986, I want to say without fear of contradiction you are one of the greatest intellectuals produced by our movement,” Nzimande had said.
They were not taking legal action
ALLEGATIONS: Blade Nzimande
PEEVED: Thabo Mbeki