‘ANC is diverting from its values’
FORMER president Kgalema Motlanthe has warned that the ANC was departing from its values, which was being exposed as its stalwarts died.
Motlanthe was speaking in Johannesburg yesterday during the national memorial service of ANC Struggle stalwart Mendi Msimang.
Motlanthe said the death of ANC veterans of Msimang’s stature presented a challenge to the current ANC leadership, and the party had to ask itself if it lived a life worthy of the sacrifices they had made or whether they traded democratic gains for a life of “self-advancement with no patriotic pursuit”.
“Mendi Msimang is a mirror of the kind of leader who rose at a time when the ANC was not riddled with the cancer of corruption, the cult of personality and factional interests that have enabled the systematic looting of state resources,” Motlanthe said.
Msimang, a former ANC treasurergeneral and the country’s high commissioner in London, died on Monday following a long illness.
He has been hailed as a towering figure whose quiet disposition was accompanied by a strong commitment to service and ethical leadership.
Born in Johannesburg in 1928, Msimang joined the ANC at the age of 16 and became a founding member of the ANC Youth League.
Following the banning of liberation movements by the apartheid government in 1960, he was among the first ANC leaders to leave the country to establish the ANC’s external mission abroad.
During the fight against apartheid, Msimang was deployed as the movement’s chief representative to India in 1968 and to the UK from 1985 until 1994, among other key postings.
After 1994, he was deployed as South Africa’s high commissioner to London until he was elected to the ANC’s top six in 1997, serving for two five-year terms with Motlanthe, as treasurer-general and secretary-general respectively.
In a clear swipe at the current state of the ANC, Motlanthe said Msimang and his generation were driven by activism whose programme was “derived from a command structure that championed thought leadership” and at a time when the movement was driven with “plural thought and unity of command”.
“In the face of such a mirror, we find ourselves faced with the reality that we are more than what we have allowed ourselves to become.
“With that being the case, how then do we expect the likes of Ahmed Kathrada, Fatima Meer, Nelson Mandela, Oliver Tambo, Albertina Sisulu and others to rest when the legacy of what they have fought for now sinks into the abyss?” Motlanthe asked.
Also attending the memorial service were ANC stalwarts Essop Pahad, Trevor Fowler, Motlanthe’s partner Gugu Mtshali – who served as Msimang’s personal assistant – and his successor as treasurer-general, Mathews Phosa.
Phosa said: “I had the privilege to be the successor to comrade Mendi Msimang as treasurer-general and saw first-hand what a giant he was in our movement.
“Of course, he had the privilege of walking in the footsteps of giants himself, having worked for Oliver Tambo and Nelson Mandela in their law firm,” Phosa added.