Foun­da­tion writes let­ter de­mand­ing answers about ‘im­pe­rial pres­i­dency’

The Star Early Edition - - FRONT PAGE - LUYOLO MKENTANE luyolo.mkentane@inl.co.za

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

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