Motlanthe slams ANC
Passing of veterans of Msimang’s stature a challenge to current leadership: ex-president
FORMER president Kgalema Motlanthe has called on the ANC to reflect on what he called the party’s betrayal of the sacrifices made by those who fought for the country’s liberation from apartheid oppression.
He was delivering a tribute to the late ANC struggle stalwart Mendi Msimang at his national memorial service, which was organised by the party.
Msimang – a former ANC treasurer general and the country’s ambassador to the UK – died on Monday following a long illness.
Msimang has been hailed as a towering figure whose quiet disposition was accompanied by a strong commitment to service and ethical leadership.
Motlanthe said the passing of ANC veterans of Msimang’s stature was presenting a challenge to the current ANC leadership 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”.
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 in 1960, Msimang was among the first ANC leaders to leave the country to establish the ANC external mission abroad.
During the fight against apartheid, Msimang was deployed as the party’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 the high commissioner to the UK until he was elected into the ANC’s top six, where he served for two fiveyear 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 had been driven by activism whose programme was “derived from a command structure that championed thought leadership” and at a time when the movement had been 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, Mathews Phosa.