SA has lost re­spect in Africa: Mbeki

Chronicle (Zimbabwe) - - Worldwide -

JO­HAN­NES­BURG — Former Pres­i­dent Thabo Mbeki said South Africa has lost the re­spect of coun­tries, both in Africa and glob­ally, which had in­vested in its suc­cess.

Speak­ing in Jo­han­nes­burg on Fri­day night at the launch of The Thabo Mbeki I Know, a book writ­ten by var­i­ous con­trib­u­tors about him, Mbeki said it told the story “of how much Africa and the rest of the world in­vested in the suc­cess of this coun­try”.

Mbeki said, “as I wan­der around the con­ti­nent, this is a re­frain that we meet right across the con­ti­nent: ‘what has gone wrong with SA?’

“It is ev­ery­where. Ev­ery­where [is] loss of re­spect for the South Africans. Who wants to lis­ten to the South Africans? And that is re­al­ity, that is the prac­ti­cal­ity, that is the sit­u­a­tion.”

Re­fer­ring to two guest speak­ers, former Botswana pres­i­dent Ke­tu­mile Masire, and former Swedish am­bas­sador to South Africa An­ders Möl­lan­der, Mbeki said peo­ple from all over the world self­lessly helped South Africa be­cause they had a sense of com­mit­ment to the strug­gle and of re­spon­si­bil­ity.

Mbeki also said a man like former Tan­za­nian pres­i­dent Julius Ny­erere had the same sense of com­mit­ment, and once told him: “I’m your mes­sen­ger, send me any­where you want.”

Mbeki, to ad­mir­ing gasps from the au­di­ence, said that didn’t say some­thing about him­self, but rather of the qual­ity of lead­er­ship Ny­erere pos­sessed.

“He is my men­tor, my leader, what­ever, but he has the grace, the dis­ci­pline to say to this younger fel­low that it’s clear that you are go­ing to do things for Africa. For­get that I’m your leader I’m your mes­sen­ger.

Mbeki said like­wise when the Swedes got in­volved in the strug­gle against apartheid, “if there was a vic­tory they would be part of the vic­tory, if there was a fail­ure they would be part of the fail­ure.”

Dur­ing an ear­lier panel dis­cus­sion at the launch, Möl­lan­der said he wanted to re­mind South Africans of their achieve­ments af­ter a very vi­o­lent tran­si­tion in 1994.

He said peo­ple asked him af­ter the ANC’s 2007 Polok­wane con­fer­ence, when Mbeki was re­placed by Pres­i­dent Ja­cob Zuma in a bruis­ing elec­tions bat­tle, whether that was the end of South Africa as peo­ple knew it, and whether the coun­try would go down the drain.

“I said I don’t be­lieve so, the Con­sti­tu­tion was strong,” Möl­lan­der said.

Former min­is­ter Alec Er­win, who re­signed in 2008 af­ter Mbeki’s re­call, said the dan­ger in South Africa was that there was not re­ally a po­lit­i­cal party that could take the coun­try for­ward in the cause of hu­man­ity.

He said South Africans had to find “no­bil­ity of the hu­man spirit” again, “oth­er­wise this pe­riod we are in will be quite dark for a while”.

Er­win also warned that eco­nomic trans­for­ma­tion would not hap­pen overnight, but it was a process. “We planned the pro­gramme, which we knew would take some years”.

He said the govern­ment was out by 10 years, but had built up enough funds by 2007 to ad­dress the prob­lems on the ground. “That mo­ment es­caped us,” he said, in ref­er­ence to the han­dover of power to Zuma.

Ex-am­bas­sador Lindiwe Mabuza, a former trustee of the Thabo Mbeki Foun­da­tion board, said the book was “nec­es­sary to put be­fore the peo­ple of the world the real Thabo Mbeki”.

She said there were many Mbekis out there which were “vil­i­fied” and “mis­rep­re­sented”, and those who knew him didn’t recog­nise him in those de­scrip­tions.

Thabo Mbeki Foun­da­tion CEO Max Bo­qwana said the book wasn’t about pol­ish­ing Mbeki’s im­age, but rather link­ing the work of the coun­try’s fore­bear­ers with the present.

Henke Pis­to­rius

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Zimbabwe

© PressReader. All rights reserved.