Category Archives: Thabo Mbeki

Thabo Mbeki


Last week, the Deputy National Director of Public Prosecutions for the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA), Advocate Willie Hofmeyr, submitted an affidavit concerning the court challenge brought by the Democratic Alliance to set aside the NPAs 2009 decision to drop corruption charges preferred against President Jacob Zuma.

In the affidavit, Adv Hofmeyr makes several allegations to the effect that during the time when I served as President of the Republic, certain people (presumably with my knowledge and consent) used or sought to use the NPA as a “tool to fight [my] factional political battles.”

After careful study of the affidavit, I have come to the firm conclusion that it contains ABSOLUTELY no evidence to back the claim that either the alleged role players or I sought to interfere or interfered in the work of the NPA.

Those who have followed this matter will recall that essentially the same allegations were canvassed before Judge Chris Nicholson in the Pietermaritzburg High Court in 2008. Though Judge Nicholson was persuaded by the allegations, the Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA) unanimously dismissed his judgment and said, amongst other things, that it was “incomprehensible.”

I have therefore determined that there is nothing to add or to subtract from the SCA judgement.

Subsequent to the SCA judgement, my office issued a statement on January 13, 2009 in which I said in part: “It seems to me that the unacceptable practice of propagation of deliberate falsehoods to attain various objectives is becoming entrenched in our society.” I also called on “All of us as leaders and citizens critically to reflect on this practice in order to avoid the entrenchment of a culture which may eventually corrupt our society.”

My views and concerns regarding this practice and its consequences have not changed.

At another period in history, Mahatma Gandhi sought to address this and other concerns when he spoke of Seven Social Sins, these being:

“Wealth without work;
Pleasure without conscience;
Knowledge without character;
Commerce without morality;
Science without humanity;
Worship without sacrifice, and;
Politics without principle.”

I hope and pray that one day, hopefully soon, our country will reflect on this and other issues with the obligatory depth and seriousness, bearing in mind that a society without a moral proposition is destined nowhere.

Statement issued by the Office of Thabo Mbeki, Johannesburg, April 9 2015

Thabo Mbeki Foundation


The Thabo Mbeki Foundation (TMF) has noted the important news of the acquittal and release, by the International Criminal Court, of former President of Cote d’Ivoire, Mr Laurent Gbagbo.

We welcome this development which we hope will contribute positively to Cote d’Ivoire’s continued efforts in pursuit for sustainable peace, national reconciliation and justice.

In this regard, we stand in support of the views expressed by the Africa Forum – the forum of former African Heads of State and Government, in its letter submitted to the ICC prosecutor, Mrs Fatou Bensouda, on September 09, 2015, appealing for the release of President Gbagbo.

In the letter, the Forum said it had made its appeal in the “…context of our serious concern that Cote d’Ivoire should continue to grow and develop for the benefit of all its citizens, in conditions of peace, democracy and the rule of law, national reconciliation and unity” and that “that Mr Laurent Gbagbo should be allowed to make his important and unique contribution in the pursuit of peace and reconciliation in Cote d’Ivoire.”

It further underscored the point that “the situation in Cote d’Ivoire requires and demands that the Ivorian people continue to engage in a process of peace and reconciliation by democratic means and in a truly inclusive manner, working together in conditions of peace and security. Peace is a very important element in the pursuit of justice.”

We therefore make an urgent call for all Ivorian parties to engage in an immediate process of dialogue. As the Foundation we stand ready and committed to assisting to ensure this process.


Programme Directors,
Your Excellency President Cyril Ramaphosa,
Your Excellency Nangolo Mbumba, Vice President of the Republic of Namibia,
Honourable Mama Graça Machel,
Honourable Ministers, Premiers and Mayors,
Your Excellency Ambassador Cecilia Julin and other Ambassadors and High Commissioners,
The esteemed Modise and Bokwe families,
Fellow mourners, comrades, ladies and gentlemen:

We have convened here to say a final farewell to a very dear Comrade, Ambassador Billy Modise. I would like to believe that by now all of us are familiar with Billy’s biography which, for instance, is contained in the Obituary which was presented earlier. Accordingly there is no need for me to recount that biography.

However I must repeat that that biography tells us that for 63 years, from 1955 when he first went to Fort Hare University College to 2018 when he finally left us, Billy was a loyal member and activist of the ANC, the African National Congress.

It therefore stands to reason that that membership of the ANC surely defined in very good measure who Billy Modise was and dictated what he did. This is because, as we all know, the six decades during which Billy was a member and activist of the ANC were very critical in the process of the making and transformation of South Africa and therefore the evolution of the ANC itself.

Thus in Billy Modise we have one of those comrades who has been present as an actor in the process I have just mentioned, of the making and transformation of our country and the evolution of the ANC. As we all know, this was a process which, among others included:

➢ a most determined and multi-sided struggle within South Africa, with the liberation movement broadly united around the Freedom Charter; combined with,
➢ a similarly determined and truly massive international movement of anti-apartheid solidarity;

which both offensives, the domestic and the international,

➢ obliged the apartheid regime to enter into negotiations with the liberation movement to end the system of white minority rule; which led to the moment when we said ‘free at last’!, followed by
➢ democratic elections since 1994, with the ANC winning all the national elections during our years of democratic rule; and consequently
➢ South Africa’s assumption of her rightful place in Africa and the rest of the world, after many years of international rejection and isolation.

All these were each great victories in themselves. As South Africans we have owed it to the architects of each of these victories to bestow on them the deserved accolades. And of course those accolades are finally due to all those, including the masses of our people, whose collective actions finally brought freedom to our country.

Billy Modise occupies an honoured place among these who must receive these accolades.

However it must surely be a matter of common cause among all of us that truly to honour these great patriots requires more than these praises we must indeed shower on them. What is imperative, in addition, is that we must do our best to ensure that the example set, and the legacy left behind by these patriots, should serve to inspire the present and future generations to emulate that example and build on that legacy.

Accordingly as we say farewell to Comrade Billy Modise with all the due accolades, we must also surely repeat together – let us nurture a million more Billy Modise’s!

Last year the then Secretary General of the ANC, Gwede Mantashe, joining the ANC Stalwarts and Veterans among whom Billy belonged, sounded the alarm bells about exactly this matter – the need to nurture a million more Billy Modise’s! – when he presented a Diagnostic Report on the ANC in which he said, among others:

“Revolutionary morality is about the leadership of our movement adhering to higher standards of behaviour…We owe it to ourselves first, the movement and society, to analyse in detail the implications of a liberation movement that has ascended to power and, therefore, controls huge resources. Being in power is rapidly becoming a source of political bankruptcy, in that members of the ANC fight for deployment either as councillors, MPLs and MPs – respectively, as if there is ‘no tomorrow’… It is foreign to our movement for comrades to see deployment as a source of material benefit rather than the reason to serve the people. These fights among comrades turn the interest of our people off, and push them away from the movement.”

It would of course have been a matter of especial concern to all our people that Secretary General Mantashe was talking about our country’s governing party. Accordingly the abandonment of higher standards of behaviour by many within the governing party, Billy Modise’s party, which SG Mantashe decried, meant, very directly, that this would seriously undermine the capacity and possibility for the governing party truly and effectively to serve the people of South Africa.

Thus does Billy’s own party and our society as a whole need to inculcate in as many of our people as possible the example set by Billy Modise over many decades, of adhering to higher standards of behaviour, ever committed to serve the people!

My own first contact with Billy in the context of political struggle was in 1959. At that time I was a Member of the Executive Committee of the ANC Youth League at Lovedale High School which is immediately across the Thyume River from Fort Hare. Billy Modise was then Secretary of the ANC Youth League branch at Fort Hare.

At that time the Lovedale Youth League branch related to the Fort Hare ANC Youth League branch as its immediate senior. We therefore interacted with Billy and his comrades as our seniors.

The matter we sought to discuss with the ANC leadership at Fort Hare as students at Lovedale High School, a boarding school, arose from the fact that we were on strike and intended to leave the School as part of that strike. Our Fort Hare comrades were fully in support of our strike. Now we wanted them to endorse our departure from our school. Happily for us, they agreed with us that we should indeed leave school.

We believed that we had good reason why we should get the support of the ANC leadership at Fort Hare. We were convinced that that support would legitimise in the eyes of our parents, the ANC as whole, and our communities, our decision to leave Lovedale without being expelled.

I mention this incident which occurred almost 60 years ago to indicate the political weight the activist for liberation, Billy Modise, carried, even while he was part of the youth, having served as Secretary of the Fort Hare SRC, Secretary of the ANC Youth League at Fort Hare and the Victoria East ANC region, and member of the national leadership of the National Union of South African Students, NUSAS, the only non-racial and anti-apartheid national student organisation at the time.

It was surely a matter of great pride and satisfaction to Billy Modise that in the years after he left Fort Hare, successive generations of youth and students in our country continued to play important roles both in the struggle for liberation and the process of the construction and development of a democratic society.

Our experience during 24 years as a democratic country has confirmed that the task of the eradication of the legacy of colonialism and apartheid and building a prosperous non-racial and non-sexist democracy is indeed very complex.

Among others this emphasises the great importance of doing everything necessary and possible to develop and inspire our youth to engage in this historic process of the fundamental socio-economic transformation of our country, drawing the necessary lessons from the example Billy Modise set during his own youthful years!

That same experience of 24 years of democracy has also firmly confirmed that South Africa is not an island sufficient unto itself. To succeed in all its endeavours it needs to be fully integrated within Africa and the rest of the world.

We are indeed very honoured that H.E. Ambassador Cecilia Julin of Sweden has been able to join this final farewell to Billy Modise, holder of the prestigious Swedish Order of the Polar Star. In this context I would like to believe that all of us are very familiar with the outstanding role Sweden played in terms of the provision of massive support to our struggle.

As has been said already, we must of course continue to pay the tribute that is due to Billy for the work he did from 1960 onwards to help build what became a very powerful Swedish movement of solidarity with the peoples of South and Southern Africa.

It spoke to Billy’s dedication to the accomplishment of this task that, as a student in Sweden, he opted to abandon his studies in medicine to pursue other subjects, which gave him more time to do his political work both in Sweden and in other Nordic countries. That dedication contributed enormously to the privilege we enjoy to this day of excellent relations between Sweden and South Africa, and very warm, genuine people-to-people relations between our two peoples.

I would like to believe that as we continue the work to strengthen our relations with the rest of the world, including by helping to build a global movement for the democratisation of the system of international relations, our diplomats would do their best to learn everything that is relevant from the work Billy Modise did which helped to win for our country a genuine friend, the Kingdom of Sweden.

Ambassador Modise hoped that as our country strives to liberate itself from the negative tendencies which have engulfed it during recent years, it would also renew its focus on the strategic objective of the renaissance of Africa, loyal to the long-established Pan-Africanist traditions of his movement, the ANC.

As he taught at the Namibia Institute in Lusaka to train Namibians who would help to manage and develop the liberated Namibia, working side by side with the current President of the Republic of Namibia, H.E. Hage Geingob, Billy treated this task as an organic part of his life’s mission as a cadre of the ANC.

He had carried out his work in Sweden and other Nordic countries of helping to build the solidarity movement I have mentioned, working together with other liberation movements such as those from Namibia, Zimbabwe and Mozambique.

Somebody like the late Namibian, Jariretundu Kozonguizi, founder of SWANU, the South West Africa National Union, which ultimately disappeared, was to Billy a colleague, given that he had been an active member of the ANC Youth League when he was a student at Fort Hare.

Inspired by his vision and commitment relating to our Continent, Africa, and the practical example he set, we must pay tribute to and truly honour Billy Modise by regaining the unqualified respect of the whole of Africa for our country by doing the good and right things which gave hope to all Africans, including the African Diaspora.

The departure of Billy Modise from the world of the living confirms sad news we cannot escape, that an eminent generation in our country which has been involved in struggle for six decades or more, to change the lives of all our people for the better, is disappearing for ever.

These are women and men, like Billy Modise, who, throughout their lives, and despite being confronted by great challenges, have consistently conducted themselves according to a noble value system, and remained at all times humble, humanist, never self-serving, permanently ready to serve the people.

Thus it is that when death robs us of any among the generation of liberators I have mentioned, this produces a sense of foreboding that unless we act to prevent this by ensuring that many among the living emulate our liberators, such as Billy Modise, one day we will wake up and find that there are none in our country who would conduct themselves according to the noble value system I have mentioned, humble, humanist and never self-serving.

Sis’ Yoli and your daughter, Thandi, and the rest of the Modise and Bokwe families, please accept our sincere condolences at the loss of one very dear to you, Ambassador Billy Modise.

Our dear Ambassador, our esteemed leader, elder brother and friend, Comrade Billy, while we live we will do our best to help ensure that the nation does not lose the extraordinary legacy you have left behind for its benefit, intent to give substance to what has been and will be said – that the spirit of Billy Modise lives on!

May the outstanding patriot, Billy Modise, rest in eternal peace.

Thank you.

Thabo Mbekis Foundation


The Thabo Mbeki Foundation welcomes the recall of President Jacob Zuma. For a long time now, many in our country have called for the removal of Mr Jacob Zuma as President of the Republic.

This was because- amongst others- he faces the possibility of prosecution for alleged criminal offences and is directly associated with negative developments such as the alleged corruption of various state bodies i.e. State-Owned Enterprises, the National Prosecuting Authority, State Capture and serious economic mismanagement. It has been obvious for many years that the interests of our country would be best served if indeed Mr Zuma ceased to be President of the Republic.

We therefore welcome the decision announced today by the National Executive Committee of the governing party, the ANC, to recall Mr. Zuma as a deployee of the ANC in his capacity as President of the Republic. As a disciplined and loyal cadre of the ANC and out of respect for the constitution of the country, Mr. Zuma must communicate with the speaker of the House of Assembly to tender his resignation as the President of the Republic.

This long overdue resolution by the NEC of the African National Congress gives the possibility for the ANC as the governing party to urgently and immediately attend to the many challenges and negative developments which have arisen during the years of the Presidency of Mr Zuma.

Thabo Mbeki Foundation


On the 31st of January 2018 the Citizen Newspaper published an article under the heading “Mbeki back in business.” The article written by one Eric Naki alleges among other things that “former President Thabo Mbeki is serving as an advisor to new ANC president Cyril Ramaphosa in a move analysts have applauded, saying it brings optimism about SA’s political and economic future.

The Thabo Mbeki Foundation would like to put in on record that this is a spurious allegation which is devoid of any truth. This blatant lie is nothing but a product of a hyper active imagination on the part of the writer whose sole purpose is to misinform and mislead people.

This articles is riddled with serious inaccuracies and a poor attempt to revise the content of the interview that President Mbeki conducted with the South African Broadcasting Corporation in Addis Ababa, which was a wide ranging interview about the challenges facing our Continent, in particular the issue of Illicit Financial Flows, the positive developments in the Continent , including the change of Leadership of the African National Congress.

It is in respect to the latter that The Citizen seeks to impugn its own view and to make as if it is President Mbeki’s view , quite wrongly . President Mbeki has stated that the Leadership of the ANC must be given an opportunity to deal with the issues that they themselves have raised such as fighting corruption, the renewal of the ANC, the Unity of the ANC etc. He urged instead that the Leadership must look seriously on the ANC Veterans Declaration of November 2017 , which pointed to a number of these problems and how they should be resolved.

As part of the Veterans of the ANC he would welcome an opportunity to be advised by the current Leadership of the ANC as to what they as the Veterans must do to assist in solving the many problems facing the ANC. Nothing more and nothing less.
It is a matter of grave concern that this journalist would peddle a story which has no basis in reality. Our concern is not only just that this is a propagation of fake news but we are highly conscious of the implications and the consequences of the propagation of fake news. The general public, in South Africa should be alerted to the dangers of this phenomenon.

Historically and for many decades, the people throughout the world have depended and relied on the established media for their information and have naturally accepted what the media reports as objective facts which informed their reality and on the basis of which they made decisions.

Consequently the mainstream media has enjoyed a dominant position in helping to form and shape public opinion, and therefore the way in which the public should act with regard both to national and international developments, as explained by this media.

It is therefore a matter of grave concern when Newspapers such as the Citizen choose to operate outside of the ethics that govern media to report objectively and truthfully but instead choose to abuse the trust that has been bestowed upon the media by the public.

The peddling of lies and misinformation must be exposed and condemned in the strongest terms possible because people may take decisions and act on the basis of these lies.

Issued by the Thabo Mbeki Foundation

Thabo Mbeki



Chairperson of Conference,
Distinguished participants:

More than a decade ago, we were honoured as the South African government to host for a few days a leading representative of the then government of Austria.

At that moment our democracy was less than ten years old and continued to attract considerable attention throughout the world. Accordingly we had to engage our Austrian guest in a detailed discussion about ourprogrammes to respond to our national challenges.

Our guest left us with an observation which many of us never forgot. Simply he said that in the international context ­ South Africa is a pilot project!

In this regard he picked out two matters. These were first what we were doing to build a truly non-racial society and therefore successfully manage a diverse society, and secondly what we were doing to eradicate poverty and in that context reduce the gross racial and gender
socio-economic inequalities which our democracy had inherited.

Our guest insisted that even Austria faced similar challenges of managing
a diverse society and reducing socio-economic inequalities, obviously on
a much smaller degree than South Africa.

He therefore informed us that because of this the broad Austrian
leadership was doing its best to watch how our country was responding to
these challenges and was greatly encouraged that we were successfully serving as a pilot project even for his country!

I have told you this story because of the subject I have been asked to address, which is, South Africa ­ Living up to its promise¹.

I have read this to mean that certainly the organisers of this important
Conference believe that South Africa has not lived up to its promise!

In this regard let e hasten to say that I fully agree with this
sentiment, that indeed democratic South Africa has not fully lived up to
its promise!

And what were the elements of that promise?

Our Austrian guest was correct when he said that our country held out the
promise of the successful management of a racially diverse society,
leading to the building of a truly non-racial society.

Related to this was the promise that it would entrench democracy in our
country in a manner which would ensure the building of the necessary
institutions, respect for human rights and the rule of law.

Our country also held out the promise of radically reducing poverty in
our country and reducing the yawning racial and gender inequalities in
terms of the distribution of wealth and income, thus to accomplish the
goal of a better life for all.

In this context it held out the promise that it would build an economy
which would grow and develop at significant rates, sufficient for it to
generate the new wealth on a sustainable basis which is required to
achieve the progressive socio-economic objectives I have mentioned.

With the strongest and most developed economy on our Continent and the
value system that historically characterised our national liberation
movement, certainly as represented by the governing party, the ANC, our
country held out the promise that it would also serve as a living example
which would contribute to dissipate the then prevalent Afro-pessimism and
thus help other countries on our Continent to address their challenges in
a manner which would make a positive impact on the lives of the billion

This would make it possible for Africa to take its rightful place in the
system of international relations resulting, among others, in better
management of Africa¹s resources and less dependence on the charity of
the developed world of the North.

It therefore stands to reason that when the assertion is made that South
Africa has not lived up to its promise this statement must be measured
against the various Œpromises¹ I have just listed.

However, with your permission, I will not do this as it would take a fair
amount of time which we do not have this morning.

I would like to believe that all of us here are familiar with the fact
that three weeks ago the Veterans and Stalwarts of the ANC, our country¹s
governing party, held what they described as a National Consultative

Briefly, these very senior cadres of the ANC convened this Conference
exactly because of their very grave concern that because of various
misdemeanours of the ANC as a governing party, our country was
continuously moving away from delivering on the promises I have listed.

Let me quote part of what the Consultative Conference said in the
Declaration it issued as it concluded its work.

Among others, the Veterans and Stalwarts of the ANC, our country¹s
governing party, said:

³We observe that the current elected leadership of the ANC is paralysed
and unable to deal with ill-discipline, incompetence and corruption that
point directly to the highest office in the landŠ

³We further observe that parliament and the executive, led by the
President, (have) been found to have failed in their constitutional
obligations by the highest court of the land.

³The mismanagement of our economy has led to unprecedented unemployment
rates. This has exacerbated the levels of poverty amongst the masses of
our peopleŠ

³We are witness to the moral degeneration in society that is overseen by
a self-centred, non-caring leadership that lacks honesty, integrity and a
vision for the futureŠ

(We are also witness to)The systematic erosion of the State¹s ability
to carry out its constitutional mandate of delivering services to our
peopleŠ, as well as,

(Actions by the ANC leadership which have resulted in) ³Diminishing the
stature and reputation of South Africa and the African National Congress
in the eyes of our people, the sister peoples on the African continent
and the world at large.

I believe that these statements made by a most politically mature echelon
of the membership of the ANC are sufficient to indicate how seriously the
people of South Africa view and describe the reality that our country has
failed to live up to its promise, and therefore their urgent desire to
move away from this negative reality.

In any case and in addition, all of us are familiar with the negative
assessment of the rating of South Africa which has been made by the
international rating agencies, consistent with the views expressed even
by the oldest of the members of the ANC!

Thus we must come back to the question ­ what must be done to ensure that
South Africa lives up to its historic promise?

Of course, immanent in that very question, is the suggestion that it is
in fact possible to achieve the objective of ensuring that our country
lives up to its promise!
My comments with regard to the matters I have just raised are that:

First, it is indeed possible to ensure that our country lives up to its

Secondly, to achieve this outcome, it will be important that our country
is mobilised to act in unity to achieve the nationally agreed objectives
as stated in our Constitution of building a non-racial, non-sexist,
democratic and prosperous society, committed to addressing the grievances
of the past.

Third, our starting point must be that the members of the ANC, supported
by the rest of our population, must act firmly, and on a sustained basis,
to ensure that the ANC seriously addresses its weaknesses and
misdemeanours so that it honestly discharges its responsibilities in the
context of the Constitutional objectives I have just mentioned.

I mention specifically the ANC because all indications suggest that it
will continue to enjoy primacy as the governing party of choice, or the
single largest party, in terms of how our population will vote during our
national elections.

Fourth, it is vitally important that the masses of the people of South
Africa are mobilised, as happened during the difficult years of struggle
against apartheid, once more to adopt the posture that they are their own
liberators determined to ensure that South Africa develops into the
country for which they sacrificed and fought.

The question arises naturally as to whether all what I have just said
does not amount to nothing more than a pipedream, the mere expression of
an unrealisable wish!

In this regard I would like to state my very firm views.

The first of these, once again, is that it is indeed eminently possible
to ensure that sooner rather than later South Africa returns to the path
according to which it would live up to its promise as we defined this

I make this firm assertion exactly because as our people have done
everything to defend and entrench our democratic system, so does the
possibility exist that precisely because of the vibrancy of our democracy
our people have the possibility, which they will exercise, to ensure that
our country and theirs lives up to its promise!

Put simply, it is through the exercise of their democratic rights by our
people that it will be possible for our country correctly to respond to
the concerns raised by the ANC Veterans and Stalwarts at the National
Consultative Conference.

In other words, the South African people must and will use the fact of
the democratic gains they made through struggle to use their democratic
power to defeat the negative elements which have taken control of the
governing party, the ANC, including as this relates to the reprehensible
phenomenon of state capture.

Already our Judiciary, and more recently the National Legislature, acting
within their Constitutional mandates, have demonstrated how our
democratic Constitutional system can and must respond to all efforts to
negate what our Constitution says, which has resulted in our country
failing to live up to its promise.

It remains for all the South African patriotic forces to ensure that all
other sections of our population act in a manner consistent with what the
Judiciary and the National Legislature have done thus to generate the
popular power to ensure that our country repositions itself to live up to
its promise.

An important part of what this will require will be that that broad and
united democratic response to ensure that South Africa lives up to its
promise, also addresses various matters of political, economic, social,
international and other policy.

When the ANC acceded to power in 1994 its policies as a governing party
were informed by two strategic policy documents.

These were the documents Ready to Govern and the ³Reconstruction and
Development Programme (RDP).

Obviously, after 1994 the ANC elaborated other policy documents among
others to respond to challenges which had come up during the process of
governance, but which did not depart from the fundamental propositions of
the ³Ready to Govern² and ³RDP² documents.

I refer here to such documents as ³State and Social Transformation² and
Growth, Employment and Redistribution: A Macroeconomic Strategy² (GEAR),
as well as a big complex of documented decisions taken by Government
effectively to give effect to all the documents and polices I have

I say all this to make the important point that since 1994 our democratic
order has taken a multiplicity of decisions exactly to spell out in
detail what democratic South Africa must do to live up to its promise!

In this context I would like to make the observation that one of the
weaknesses of the National Development Plan (NDP) is that it completely
fails to assess the Government policies which preceded the NDP, including
whether these correctly identified what had to be done to address our
country¹s historic challenge of the eradication of the legacy of
colonialism and apartheid.

The central point I would like to make is that when success is achieved
with regard to addressing the negative challenges facing the governing
party, the ANC, it will be possible to attend to such important matters

elaborating a programme of action to implement the National Development
Plan, the NDP, which implementation must, among others, result in
achieving the objectives indicated in the Plan, such as high economic
growth rates, significant poverty reduction and meaningful and sustained
job creation;

I ensuring that the State and the State Owned Enterprises play their
proper role in terms of contributing to the implementation of the NDP,
freed from the corrosive clutches of corruption;

ensuring the proper functioning of our constitutional democracy
consistent with the manner in which our Constitutional Court explained
what our Constitution expects of all our governance institutions: this
would include restoring to their full health all the State institutions
which have been corrupted and weakened especially during the last decade;

strengthening the partnership between government, the corporate sector,
the trade unions and civil society to ensure the achievement of the goal
of a better life for all as indicated in the NDP; and,

activating the criminal justice system to discharge its
responsibilities with regard to stamping out corruption, including in its
manifestation as state capture, thus to help ensure that our people as a
whole, whatever their social status, practically respect the principle
and practice of the rule of law.

To conclude, I am therefore saying that yes, South Africa will once again
live up to its promise!

Confirming their decision to act, rather than stand and watch, in their
Declaration the ANC Stalwarts and Veterans said:

We acknowledge that our failure to address (the negative developments
emanating from ANC misdemeanours) timeously has contributed towards the
grave reputational damage, political and moral crisis facing our
organisation and country.

As we meet here in Cape Town, a mere ten (10) days before the start of
the 54th National Conference of the ANC, millions throughout our country
are engaged in various actions specifically to end Œthe grave
reputational damage, (the) political and moral crisis facing our
organisation and country¹ to which the ANC Stalwarts and Veterans

I am certain that the last decade has taught these millions the lesson
that directly in their own interest they must act to ensure that South
Africa lives up to its promise.

Thank you.

Thabo Mbeki


Members and representatives of the Oliver and Adelaide Tambo Foundation, our hosts this evening;

Dear Members of the Tambo family;Fellow South Africans; Comrades, friends, ladies and gentlemen:

Had OR Tambo been alive, today we would have gathered in happy gatherings throughout our country to wish him a very happy centenary birthday!

However as we meet today, to mark this centenary, we still wish to convey a heartfelt happy birthday message to Oliver Tambo, our beloved OR and esteemed leader, certain that he will hear our message wherever he is.

Accordingly, today, October 27, 2017 our people, joined by the peoples of the rest of Africa and the world, stand up and say in unison – happy birthday our dear and respected Oliver Tambo, our beloved OR!

However, at the same time as we celebrate a hundredth birthday, we have gathered here today at a time of great stress for OR’s movement, the ANC, and his country, South Africa.

The comments we will make about Oliver Tambo as we celebrate the centenary of his birth will emphasise two matters.

One of these is that periodically the ANC has had to confront and respond to threats which challenged its very existence.

Another is that these threats and the ANC responses have also been related to the development of our country.

This describes what has been somewhat of an umbilical cord between the development of the ANC and the evolution of South Africa.

In this regard I would like to argue that for half-a-century Oliver Tambo stood out as a defining player in terms of the construction of the relationship described by the respective evolutions of the ANC and South Africa.

I have just referred to what I described as threats which challenged the very existence of the ANC.

I am certain that this phenomenon has not been sufficiently canvassed in the public discourse correctly to explain and implant in the public consciousness our historical evolution as a country and people.

I will now mention three of these threats and elaborate on them later in my comments.

By 1940 the ANC was faced with the threat of withering away out of existence, that is, of ceasing to exist, because of neglect by a leadership which was too preoccupied with the pursuit of its individual professional interests.

The new President of the ANC, Dr A.B. Xuma together with his Secretary General, Rev James Calata, worked successfully during the 1940s to resurrect the ANC.

Oliver Tambo played a central role in this process, including as the first Secretary General of the ANC Youth League and later the Secretary General and Deputy President of the ANC.

The ANC resurrected in the 1940s became such a threat to our country’s white minority regime that it was banned in 1960.

As all of us know, there followed a period of extreme repression imposed on our country by the apartheid regime, starting in the 1960s, such that towards the end of that decade the ANC was virtually wiped out as an organised revolutionary formation inside South Africa.

Again as we all know, exactly at the time of the banning of the ANC, its leadership sent its then Deputy President, Oliver Tambo, out of the country, to establish and lead what was described as the External Mission of the ANC.

In the end, as had happened during the 1940s, Oliver Tambo had to play a central role, this time as the leader, to help resurrect an ANC which, again, had almost died, as had been the case in 1940.

The threat to the very existence of the ANC in 1940 had been caused by gross negligence on the part of its leadership. This occurred during a period when broadly this ANC leadership felt that there had been no fundamental change in terms of the character of the reality which had dictated the formation of the ANC in 1912.

The threat to the very existence of the ANC from 1960 emanated from extreme repression by the apartheid regime.

As I have said, Oliver Tambo led the successful process to defeat this new and extremely serious threat to the very existence of the ANC and helped to rebuild the ANC which then proceeded to lead the campaign which led to the democratic victory of 1994.

To recap what I have said:

I argue that we must pay heartfelt tribute to Oliver Tambo for the central contribution he made during the 1940s to help resurrect the ANC from its death bed and position it such that by 1960 it had mobilised the masses of our people to stand out as the strategic and practical opponent which threatened to overthrow the apartheid regime.

Further, I am arguing that we must pay heartfelt tribute to Oliver Tambo for his leadership of the ANC and the rest of the broad liberation movement, such that this movement as a whole recovered from the near destruction brought about by the extreme repression which followed that banning of the ANC in 1960 to lead the process which led to our liberation in 1994.

The ANC is now, during the year of the Centenary of the Birth of Oliver Tambo, confronted by yet another threat of destruction.

As all of us know, the ANC is now 105 years old.
During the years of its existence it has faced many challenges to its place as the preeminent and historic representative of the oppressed.

These include the challenges posed by the All African Convention in the 1930s, the formation of the PAC in 1959, the birth of such formations within the ANC as the “Gang of Eight” during the 1970s, and the formation of the Black Consciousness Movement again during the 1970s.

The historical reality is that none of these developments succeeded to displace the ANC as what I have described as the preeminent and historic representative of the oppressed.

This is why accordingly, this evening I am not discussing any of these developments, not because I am trying to downplay their significance. Rather, I am trying to focus on the strategic and historic challenges which have threatened the very existence of the ANC during the 105 years of its existence.

In the context of everything I have said, I would now like to make the firm and unequivocal observation that the ANC is now facing the third most serious threat to its very existence of 105 years.

By 1940 the ANC faced the threat of destruction. Members of the ANC successfully intervened to address this threat.

By 1960 the ANC faced yet another threat of destruction. Members of the ANC successfully intervened to address this threat.

By 2017, today, the ANC faces yet another and third historic threat of destruction.

The immense and historic challenge we face is to answer the question – does the ANC have the required members who will successfully intervene to address this new threat to the very survival of the ANC?

The ANC faces this third strategic threat during a period when unfortunately we no longer have Oliver Tambo among us, and therefore the eminent leader who played a decisive role in helping our Movement successfully to defeat the earlier threats which challenged its very survival.

In this regard I would like to argue that the fact of this third threat, and the absolute imperative to defeat it, imposes an obligation on all those who claim to be admirers and supporters of Oliver Tambo practically to act in a manner which lives up to the example which OR set.

Thus would we give practical expression to what is said as a matter of routine at funerals, that the nation must honour the example set by the departed, consistent with the call – long live the spirit of the heroes and heroines who have left us!

In his Oration as the nation laid the mortal remains of Oliver Reginald Tambo to rest, just over 24 years ago on May 2, 1993, Nelson Mandela made a commitment which I believe is binding on all of us.

He said:

“Let all of us who live say that while we live, Oliver Tambo will not die!
“May he, for his part, rest in peace.
“Go well, my brother and farewell, dear friend.

“As you instructed, we will bring peace to our tormented land.

“As you directed, we will bring freedom to the oppressed and liberation to the oppressor.
“As you strived, we will restore the dignity of the dehumanised.
“As you commanded, we will defend the option of a peaceful resolution of our problems.
“As you prayed, we will respond to the cries of the wretched of the earth.

“As you loved them, we will, always, stretch out a hand of endearment to those who are your flesh and blood.

“In all this, we will not fail you.”

I have made the assertion that this commitment by Nelson Mandela is binding on all of us, that “In all this we will not fail you”. Madiba could make this genuine commitment not as a rhetorical flourish but as an affirmation of the very close bond of comradeship and friendship that existed between himself and Oliver Tambo.

Accordingly Nelson Mandela made the commitments he announced during the Oration at OR Tambo’s funeral seriously to convey a solemn message to the nation.

Nelson Mandela could have ended his message to the nation merely by making the statement:

“Let all of us who live say that while we live, Oliver Tambo will not die!

I say this because Nelson Mandela spoke these words because what Oliver Tambo had done during half-a-century of struggle had helped to define the destiny of a better life for all the generations which lived on after he had passed on, without exception.

All this is because Oliver Tambo’s life constitutes both a journey through many phases of the development of South Africa, and the attendant liberation struggle, from the 1940s to the 1990s, and the promise of liberation and the positive benefits this would bring.

Thus Oliver Tambo was among those in the 1940s who, as leaders and members of the ANC Youth League, stood up to say that the then central task of the ANC, as the leader of our national liberation movement, was to activate the masses of our people to engage in mass action to secure their own liberation.

Oliver Tambo served among the leaders and activists who helped to ensure that this vision of mass struggle was actually implemented.

Oliver Tambo served among the leaders and activists who helped our broad movement for national liberation to elaborate and adopt that seminal document, the Freedom Charter, which defined the strategic tasks of the national democratic revolution.

Oliver Tambo served among the leaders and activists who had to ensure the continuation and intensification of the struggle despite the banning of the ANC and the implementation by the apartheid regime of its campaign of extreme repression.

This included the successful inclusion of armed struggle into the strategy of the ANC, which meant ending a period of half-a-century of commitment to non-violent struggle.

Oliver Tambo served among the leaders and activists who foresaw that the all-round liberation struggle for national liberation would oblige the apartheid regime finally to concede to the long-standing demand of the ANC and the rest of the liberation movement for a negotiated end to apartheid and white minority rule, and therefore ensured that the movement prepares for this eventuality.

What all this means is that Oliver Tambo was present, as one of our leaders, at all seminal moments in the evolution of the ANC and our struggle during the fifty years from the 1940s to the 1990s.

Accordingly as we mark the Centenary of his birth we must celebrate the enormous contribution which Oliver Tambo made to the victory of the Democratic Revolution in 1994.

When Dr A.B. Xuma delivered his Presidential Address at the ANC National Conference in 1941 he said:

“Since Congress was founded and made its initial spectacular success it has experienced periods of inactivity because you and I thought and believed that organisations led by non-Africans were more dignified than African organisations and thus we abandoned our organisations and surrendered our leadership to others…

“Fellow Countrymen, this is a challenge. Shall we not pick up the gauntlet? South Africa, white and black, needs us. We must pull our full weight; we must make our real contribution to the building and the progress of South Africa to the full benefit, mutual helpfulness and happiness of all sections, white and black.”

The truth is that when Dr Xuma acceded to the position of President of the ANC in 1940, the organisation was to all intents and purposes dormant and moribund.

As I have said, Dr Xuma then worked very hard, together with Secretary General Rev James Calata, to reconstitute and reactivate the ANC effectively to discharge its responsibility as the voice of the African majority, and made important progress in this regard. It was in this context that Dr Xuma called on the delegates at the 1941 ANC Conference to “pick up the gauntlet” and to “pull our weight”.

In the same 1941 Presidential Address Dr Xuma correctly detailed some of the burning issues which faced the African people at the time.

He then went on to say that “Congress must take steps for representations to be made to the Right Honourable the Prime Minister, Minister of Defence-Field Marshal J. C. Smuts and the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Native Affairs-Colonel Deneys Reitz” on the various burning issues he had identified.

This short history of the ANC I have mentioned is directly related to the vitally important contribution Oliver Tambo made which I have said led to the victory of the Democratic Revolution in 1994.

The successful establishment of the ANC Youth League in 1944 was an important part of the historic process led by the then President and Secretary General of the ANC to resurrect and reactivate the organisation.

In a letter written to the ANC and published in January 1956, Dr Xuma wrote that “the foundation representatives” of the ANC Youth League, ”met with me in my library at home and were baptised and established by me and the late Mr R.V. Selope Thema at the Bantu Men’s Social Centre in Johannesburg as the African National Congress Youth League…”

Addressing the delegates in 1944, ANC President A.B. Xuma said:

“You have been summoned to assemble in this hall, to discuss an important question, the question of the formation of an organisation to solve the problem of African people, a problem of a future South Africa…You have been called upon to discuss the formation of a Youth League under the African National Congress. The proposal of the formation of this organisation was passed in Bloemfontein in 1942, also confirmed in 1943, by the Conference of the African National Congress.”

It is in this context that the involvement of the then young people in the establishment of the ANC Youth League, among whom was its first Secretary General, Oliver Tambo, assumes its importance.

That importance derives from the fact that it seems obvious that the historic process to resurrect and reactivate the ANC would have been seriously compromised if it had not included the initiative to establish the Youth League as an organ of the ANC charged with the task to mobilise the youth into the struggle.

In this regard I must also mention the important fact that it was also under the Xuma-Calata leadership, in 1948, that the ANC Women’s League was established, to take the place of the Bantu Women’s League which had been established in 1918, led by Charlotte Maxeke.

It is also worth noting that it was only through a decision taken at its 1943 Conference that the ANC allowed women to join it as members!

The importance of the posture adopted by the Youth League concerning the conduct of the struggle was underlined by the conflict which arose later between Dr Xuma and the leadership of the Youth League which was ultimately resolved through the adoption of the 1949 Programme of Action.

As all of us know that conflict centred on the matter of what the resurrected and reactivated ANC should do to achieve the liberation of the oppressed.

Consistent with previous ANC policy and practice, in his 1941 Presidential Address Dr Xuma expressly said that the ANC would petition the then Prime Minister, Jan Smuts, and Minister of Native Affairs, Deneys Reitz, with regard to the demands of the black oppressed.

To the contrary, the Youth League was of the firm view that that those demands could only be achieved through struggle against the oppressor rather than through petitions submitted to that oppressor.

A vitally important part of the position taken by the Youth League was that the posture of struggle on which it insisted would mean and did mean that the resurrected and reactivated ANC would be transformed into a mass organisation capable of mobilising the millions of our people into struggle.
Given the strategic role the mass struggle played in the Democratic Victory and the leading role of the ANC with regard to the achievement of that victory, it is not difficult to understand and appreciate the historic importance of the changes to the ANC which were made in the 1940s.

I refer here to the changes which both resurrected and reactivated the ANC and radically reoriented its approach with regard to the methods it would use to achieve the liberation of the oppressed.

These laid the firm basis in terms of which in the end it was possible to mount a multi-pronged and sustained strategic offensive to defeat the apartheid regime, with the ANC serving as the universally accepted leader of that offensive.

I would now like to mention a few bare biographical facts about Oliver Tambo to highlight his important place among the leadership of the ANC over the half-century I have mentioned.

As I have said, OR was elected as the first Secretary General of the ANC Youth League in 1944. He was then 27 years old.

Three years later, in 1947, aged 30, he became a Member of the National Executive Committee of the ANC.

Six years later, in 1953, he was elected Secretary General of the ANC to replace Walter Sisulu who had been banned.

And five years later, in 1958, when he was only 41 years old, OR was elected Deputy President to our outstanding leader, Nkosi Albert Luthuli.

The ANC sent him, its Deputy President, out of the country in 1960, to head what was then called the External Mission of the Movement. The ANC Conference held in Lobatse, Bechuanaland in 1962 confirmed this decision which had earlier been taken by the NEC.

Unfortunately we lost ANC President Nkosi A.J. Luthuli in 1967, who died in suspect circumstances. OR, then 50 years old, became Acting President of the ANC while continuing as Head of the External Mission.

He was elected President of the ANC at the 1985 ANC Consultative Conference held in Kabwe, Zambia.

Regrettably OR suffered from a stroke in 1989 which severely limited his capacity to continue fully to play his leadership role.

He handed over the Presidency of the ANC to Nelson Mandela when the latter was elected to this position at the 1991 National Conference of the ANC.

That same Conference elected OR to the position of National Chairperson of the ANC, a position he held until he unfortunately passed away in 1993.
Before I started mentioning this short political biography of Oliver Tambo I had said that the changes effected during the 1940s by the ANC leadership, which included OR, ultimately created the possibility for the liberation movement to mount a multi-pronged and sustained strategic offensive to defeat the apartheid regime, with the ANC serving as the universally accepted leader of that offensive.

As all of us know, the ANC identified the prongs, what it described as the four pillars of that strategy as mass struggle, the international isolation of the apartheid system, ANC underground work and the armed struggle.

All these were important parts of the sustained general offensive which resulted in the ultimate defeat of the apartheid regime.

Each of the pillars I have mentioned constituted a complex process with regard both to identifying the specific tasks that had to be implemented, which had to change as circumstances changed, and ensuring the actual implementation of these evolving tasks.

Oliver Tambo played a central role with regard to the development of each and all these pillars, all of which rested on the strategic base established by the changes to the ANC effected in the 1940s in whose elaboration and implementation, as I have said, OR was a central actor.

As we all know, the ANC leadership took what proved to be a critically important decision when, as we said earlier, it sent its then Deputy President, Oliver Tambo, out of the country to head the External Mission.

This was at the beginning of a period of extreme repression which after some time, and for some time, virtually decimated the structures of the ANC within our country and made it impossible for it fully to discharge its responsibilities within the country as a direct leader of the liberation movement.

This period included the arrest, assassination and imprisonment of virtually the entirety of the most significant echelons of the leadership of the ANC and related formations.

This elevated the importance of what had been intended to serve only as the External Mission of the ANC, placing an obligation on the External Mission in fact to serve as the Headquarters and guiding body of the ANC as a whole.

Effectively this positioned OR as the leader of the ANC, the primus inter pares, for more than a quarter-of-a-century which proved to be the then most difficult period in the history of the ANC.

He ultimately came to enjoy the unqualified respect of all sections of the ANC at home and abroad, and the related Mass Democratic Movement.

At the same time, the overwhelming majority in the rest of the world, starting from the rest of Africa, recognised him as a legitimate representative and spokesperson of the oppressed majority in our country.

I am saying that as we mark the Centenary of Oliver Tambo’s birth, we must pay unreserved tribute to him for his vital contribution to the benchmark achievements of the ANC and the broad liberation movement over many decades.

To summarise, I refer here to:

  • the vital changes the ANC decided upon and implemented during the 1940s;
  • the development and implementation of the strategy of mass struggle and the greatest unity of the democratic forces which played a vital role in the defeat of the apartheid regime;
  • the development of a united international movement for the isolation of apartheid South Africa which was central to the victory over the apartheid regime;
  • the reconstruction of the ANC underground machinery in our country which enabled the ANC more directly to live up to its responsibility practically to act as a leader and representative of the oppressed;
  • the pursuit of the armed struggle such that, despite all challenges, this struggle played a critical role in asserting the resolve of the oppressed to overcome all obstacles to achieve their liberation; and,
  • the preparations the ANC undertook to ensure that it was properly equipped to engage in a new field of struggle – that is, negotiations with the apartheid regime!

I am insisting that with regard to all these strategic interventions, which made the 1994 Democratic Victory possible, we had Oliver Tambo as a decisive, leading and defining player.

For this reason, today, as we mark the Centenary of ORs birth, I have no hesitation to convey my heartfelt view that it is to Oliver Tambo, OR, that we should bestow the title – Father of South Africa’s Democracy!

It was not possible that Oliver Tambo could achieve what he did as a leader of the ANC, as I have tried to indicate, unless he had the personal capacity and attributes in this regard.

I was very fortunate that for almost two decades I was privileged to work quite closely with Oliver Tambo within the structures of the ANC. This gave me some understanding of the character of this eminent patriot and leader of our people.

I am honoured to use this understanding to help us properly to celebrate the Centenary of the birthday of Oliver Tambo, and therefore pay tribute to him as one of our most eminent heroes and peoples’ representative.

In his 1941 Presidential Address to that year’s ANC National Conference, Dr Xuma said:

“To Congress we must be loyal and true. For Congress, we must forget any personal or sectional interests or gain. We must put the cause and the interests of the people before any expediency…To be true leaders, we must put the interests and welfare of our people above our own.”

Much later, in a December 1955 Letter to the ANC, published in January 1956, Dr Xuma said:

“Leadership means service for and not domination over others. True and genuine leaders serve the cause of the people and do not expect the cause to serve them or become a source of profit and honour for them. Africa expects all her sons and daughters to serve the cause of the people loyally, sincerely and honestly.”

I cite these remarks by A.B. Xuma because as we mark the Centenary of the birth of Oliver Tambo I believe that all our people should understand that OR became the leader of the South African oppressed, and more, accepted by all, at home and abroad, because of particular attributes.

At the heart of Oliver Tambo’s belief system was exactly what Dr Xuma had communicated to him and his other youthful comrades that:

“To Congress we must be loyal and true. For Congress, we must forget any personal or sectional interests or gain. We must put the cause and the interests of the people before any expediency…”

I can confirm that whatever else OR did, during all the years I worked with him, this prescript remained his constant guide – “To Congress we must be loyal and true…We must put the cause and the interests of the people before any expediency…”

Never would he depart from any action which would violate these two principles – that is loyalty to the ANC and its values and commitment to pursue the genuine interests of the people.

This makes the correct point that Oliver Tambo was a principled person.

Accordingly all of us knew that in all our interactions with OR, we had to honour the principles and practices always to tell the truth, to respect the principle of honesty, to exercise our right to state our views, to behave according to the agreed rules in terms of our membership of the ANC, and never to promote whatever might be our personal interests by telling lies or engaging in subterfuge.

In addition to all this we also knew that OR had other personal attributes which made all of us very happy that he had surrendered himself to serve our Movement, the ANC, the struggle, and the people as a whole.

This related to the fact that he had a very sharp intellect!

As he grew up he had demonstrated outstanding competence in the natural sciences, including mathematics, physics and chemistry, and taught these subjects.

Nevertheless, he also had the necessary knowledge to engage in debates which discussed issues relevant to social science.

He also acquired the necessary qualifications to practice as a lawyer who could and would appear in our Courts especially to defend our people against the ravages of the apartheid system.

As a leader of the External Mission of the ANC, among others he demonstrated his leadership as an activist for the development of the arts, in all their forms, including as expressed in the music in which he was especially interested.

The sharp intellect he showed made him a great strategist and master tactician in terms of the conduct of the liberation struggle over the many decades I have mentioned.

He demonstrated that immense capacity in matters of strategy for instance when he persuaded our Movement to prepare for negotiations and defining the democratic South Africa through these negotiations even as he led the same Movement in its efforts to intensify its offensive to overthrow the oppressor regime.

To put this matter more generally, OR understood that the very advances we achieved through struggle would result in producing a qualitatively new situation presenting us with the task to have to respond to the challenges posed by our own victories.

All this means that at all times OR did everything to ensure that our Movement never lost sight of the strategic goals it had to achieve at all stages of our struggle.

I would also suggest that for us to gain an excellent grasp of OR’s capacity as a master tactician of our struggle everybody should study the January 8th ANC Anniversary Statements he presented during the years 1979 – 1989.

We would see that the comments and proposals in these Statements constitute a virtual catalogue of the evolution of our struggle in all its four pillars, demonstrating the capacity properly to understand the objective situation and respond to that situation correctly and on time.

It is a matter of common cause that OR succeeded to lead the ANC both to recover from the heavy blows it suffered during the post-1960 period of extreme repression and to resume its legal existence from 1990 as a united organisation.

Fundamental to that unity were what OR did, working with other leaders of our Movement, to ensure that our Movement as a whole understood and rallied around:

  • a shared value system loyally to serve the Movement and the people, opposed to unethical practice aiming at self-aggrandisement; this included aversion to all initiatives by anybody to seek to position themselves as leaders merely to promote selfish interests;
  • a shared understanding of the Movement’s strategic and tactical goals and a common commitment to act to achieve these goals, ready to make the necessary sacrifices in this regard; and,
  • a shared commitment among all members of the Movement to work with one another as Comrades, fully understanding that the realisation of the common goal of achieving national liberation and building a democratic, non-racial and non-sexist South Africa required that these Comrades must act together as one united Movement.

What also contributed greatly to that unity was the manner in which OR conducted the internal discussions within the ANC. He would always listen to and respect all opinions expressed and then state his own view in a manner which would assure all participants that their views had been taken into account. This helped enormously to inspire a spirit of inclusivity among the members and a sense of common ownership of everything to do with the Movement and the struggle.

I must also mention that OR was a convinced Pan-Africanist. This helped further to entrench this outlook throughout the ranks of the ANC and contributed in no small measure to the development of the attitude among millions throughout our Continent that the struggle to defeat the apartheid system was as much ours as it was theirs.

It is in this context that I certain that the important matter of the renaissance of our Continent must occupy significant space on our agenda.

Earlier I said that the ANC now faces the third threat of destruction since its foundation almost 106 years ago. This time that threat emanates from acts of commission originating from within the ANC itself.

As we all know, the ANC gained access to state power from 1994 onwards. It was inevitable that this would happen because of the place which the ANC occupied in the hearts and minds of the majority of our people as their true representative.

However the challenge which arose with this access to state power was and is that it could be abused, was and is being abused for purposes of self-enrichment. This means that the ANC contains within its ranks people who are absolutely contemptuous of the most fundamental values of the ANC, at whose centre is a commitment selflessly to serve the people.

These are people who only see the ANC as a step-ladder to enable them to access state power for the express purpose of using that access for self-enrichment.

By definition these are people who are card-carrying members of the ANC, our national governing party since 1994, but who have completely repudiated the value system which inspired Oliver Tambo throughout his life.

Part of the national tragedy in this regard is that the ANC recognised the emergence of this immensely negative phenomenon quite early after 1994.

For instance, in his Political Report at the 1997 National Conference of the ANC, Nelson Mandela said, among others:

“A number of negative features within the ANC and the broad democratic movement have emerged during the last three years…

“One of these negative features is the emergence of careerism within our ranks. Many among our members see their membership of the ANC as a means to advance their personal ambitions to attain positions of power and access to resources for their own individual gratification.

“Accordingly, they work to manipulate the movement to create the conditions for their success…

“During this period, we have also been faced with various instances of corruption involving our own members, including those who occupy positions of authority by virtue of the victory of the democratic revolution.

“These have sought either to steal public resources or to extort financial tributes from the people…

“This is not surprising in the light of what we have already said in this Report about the entrenchment of corruption in our society in general and the consequent desperate desire to accumulate wealth in the shortest possible period of time.”

And almost twenty years later, and only three months ago, ANC Secretary General Gwede Mantashe delivered what was called a Diagnostic Organisational Report and said:

“We owe it to ourselves first, the movement and society, to analyse in detail the implications of a liberation movement that has ascended to power and, therefore, controls huge resources. Being in power is rapidly becoming a source of political bankruptcy, in that members of the ANC fight for deployment either as councillors, MPLs and MPs – respectively, as if there is ‘no tomorrow’…

“The use of money to buy votes or elections in the party is at the heart of the decline of the quality of structures across the board. Money has replaced consciousness as a basis for being elected into leadership positions at all levels of the organisation. The ethical behaviour of leaders is no longer an issue, as it has been replaced by status…

“Cadres of our movement should be guided by values of honesty, humility, hard work, commitment, sacrifice, and selflessness. We hardly talk about these values which, in sections of our movement, are seen as backward and a hindrance to people accessing quick material benefit…”

In the 1997 Political Report I have cited, Nelson Mandela also said:

“In reality, during the last three years, we have found it difficult to deal with such careerists in a decisive manner. We, ourselves, have therefore allowed the space to emerge for these opportunists to pursue their counter-revolutionary goals, to the detriment of our movement and struggle…

“Clearly, we have to take all necessary measures to purge ourselves of such members and organise ourselves in a way that will make it difficult for corrupt elements to gain entry into our movement.”

The fact of the matter is that during the last two decades the ANC has failed to do the two things which Nelson Mandela mentioned in 1997 – to purge itself of the mercenaries who had joined its ranks and to make it difficult for such elements to join the Movement.

This failure surely means that inevitably the negative situation which Nelson Mandela decried would get worse, as was attested to by ANC Secretary General Mantashe in July.

The numbers of those who see the ANC as but a mere tool to access political power and corruptly acquired wealth would increase. In the end it was inevitable that this would result in the transformation of quantity into quality, in this way.

What was and was seen to be abnormal twenty years ago, in 1997, would become the norm by 2017, hence the observation made by Secretary General Mantashe concerning ‘fights for deployment among ANC members, as if there is no tomorrow’.

This means that the historic value system of the ANC has become so corrupted that its replacement, that is unprincipled access to political power and the related corrupt self-enrichment has in fact become the norm within the organisation.

It is this reality which has led to the universal scramble for deployment, ‘as if there is no tomorrow’, and indeed the repugnant phenomenon of the murders of and among municipal councillors so prevalent but not only in KwaZulu-Natal, a matter which is currently being investigated in that Province by the Moerane Commission.

Necessarily and logically the qualitative change I have mentioned, arising from the failure to defeat the process of the increase in the numbers of those who remained in the ranks of the ANC for selfish and corrupt reasons as described by Nelson Mandela, would in the end also affect the composition and quality of the very leadership of the Movement.

It is therefore perfectly obvious that what has happened is that there has been an institutional ascendance to a position of dominance or major influence at all levels of leadership in the ANC of exactly the negative elements whom Nelson Mandela urged the ANC to defeat.

I am therefore arguing that the transformation of quantity into quality has resulted in the entrenchment within the ANC of a rapacious and predatory value system and the ascendance to positions of authority or major influence in the leadership structures of the ANC of people who are both the product and expression of that rapacious and predatory value system.

I will now cite just one example to illustrate the qualitative change I have been talking about.

The 1997 Mahikeng ANC National Conference took an important decision that those who are elected to leadership positions in the ANC should be ready to discharge their responsibilities in that regard, with no expectation that their positions in the ANC entitled them to positions in government.

It was therefore decided that ANC candidates for the position of Provincial Premier should be selected in the same manner as the National Ministers with no requirement that the Provincial Chair of the ANC would necessarily become the Premier.

In the run-up to the 2007 Polokwane ANC national Conference, a spurious argument emerged within the ANC about a non-existent problem of ‘two centres of power’, so-called.

As a result of this the Polokwane Conference took the diametrically opposed position to the Mahikeng Conference. It now said, for instead, that and person elected as President of the ANC would be the ANC candidate for the position of President of the Republic.

This also meant that the Provincial Chair of the ANC would be the Provincial Premier.

This unfortunate decision meant that formally the ANC took the decision that occupation of senior positions in the ANC was the guaranteed route of access to state power, exactly the kind of understanding which the Movement had sought to discourage among the membership as a whole.

The negative situation I have sought to describe, according to which the ANC, particularly as a governing party, allows itself to behave according to a rapacious value system of conscious abuse of state power for corrupt self-enrichment and permits itself to be influenced by a leadership informed by that value system, necessarily produces certain systemic consequences.

Among these are:

  • the corruption and weakening of the ANC and the rest of the progressive movement;
    • the corruption and weakening of the institutions of the democratic State;
    • the undermining of the precepts and practices of our constitutional democracy;
    • state capture;
    • failure to achieve significant advances with regard to achieving the goal of a better life for all; and,
    • virtual abandonment of the historic Pan-Africanist perspective of the ANC.

To emphasise how dangerous these inevitable outcomes are, I can well imagine how much those are now rejoicing who were the diehards who belong to the apartheid system and who never fully accepted that ours should become a non-racial democracy.

Perhaps the most famous of Karl Marx’s Theses on Feuerbach is the last, which says:

“Philosophers have hitherto only interpreted the world in various ways; the point however is to change it.”

I have sought to suggest that the negative situation currently affecting and characterising the ANC will, unless it is addressed correctly and immediately, sooner rather than later result in the destruction of the ANC.

It would therefore seem that those who remain genuine members of the ANC, honestly committed to its historic value system centred on selfless service to the people, should take the necessary steps to change the self-destructive course on which the Movement has embarked, which, among others, has lost the ANC much support as demonstrated in the successive national, provincial and local government elections since 2009 to date.

As the first step these members of the ANC must genuinely accept that the Movement is immersed in a deep crisis and then proceed to characterise the source and nature of the problem, as Oliver Tambo did, which twice saved the ANC from destruction, understanding that without a correct diagnosis, there can be no effective and successful cure.

I believe that these should seek to implement what Nelson Mandela suggested in 1997 when he said “we have to take all necessary measures to purge ourselves of such members and organise ourselves in a way that will make it difficult for corrupt elements to gain entry into our movement.”

In this regard I believe that the ANC policy document, “Through the Eye of a Needle”, the ANC Oath which is in its Constitution, the values stated by A.B. Xuma and accepted and implemented by Oliver Tambo and the others since the 1940s, and the conduct of lifestyle audits would help to determine exactly who is a genuine member of the ANC.

I would also suggest that these members should conduct an open and honest assessment of the damage that has been done as the ANC allowed itself to fall under the influence of the rapacious value system and leadership I have mentioned, and decide on measures that must be taken to address this damage.

In this context the ANC members to whom I have referred must come back to the matter of redefining or restating the current strategic goals it faces, which I am certain would include the eradication of poverty, the eradication of inequality, the strengthening of the democratic state and African renewal.

Here I am not talking about drawing up some wish list and pretend that this is the kind of programme that is required.

I am talking about the setting of strategic goals and indicating the realistic measures which would be adopted to achieve the set objectives, following on the footsteps of what I said about OR uniting the Movement around agreed and clear goals.

I am making all these suggestions about what genuine members of the ANC should do out of respect for the fact that OR never merely sought to interpret our situation but always worked to change it.

As all of us have sought to celebrate the Centenary of his birth, we have shouted slogans such as – Long live the spirit of Oliver Tambo! Some among us, again out of respect for OR, have even gone so far as to claim that they know how he would respond to some specific current situation or event.

However I believe that the best way to honour Oliver Tambo as we mark the Centenary of his birth would be to live up to the example he has set by:

  • always being loyal to the truth;
    • always being loyal to principle and the historic value system of the ANC;
    • defeating the rapacious and predatory value system and the related leadership which are holding the ANC hostage;
    • helping to unite the ANC, the rest of the progressive movement and the people as a whole around a realistic programme for the acceleration of the advance towards achieving the goal of a better life for all;
    • helping to ensure the full and unfettered functioning of our country as a constitutional democracy; and,
    • reasserting in practical ways the principle and practice that we share a common destiny with our fellow Africans, including those in the African Diaspora.

I am convinced that if especially the generations currently in the ANC did all this, walking in the footsteps of Oliver Tambo, they help to achieve the historic goal of rescuing the ANC from destruction, as did Oliver Tambo in his day.

History will answer the question unequivocally whether we had the courage to live up to the extraordinary legacy which Oliver Tambo left behind!

Thank you.


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The Thabo Mbeki Foundation (TMF) has noted with renewed hope, the recent judgment of the Supreme Court of Appeal on the matter involving the President of the Republic, the National Prosecutions Authority and the Democratic Alliance.

The TMF also notes that this judgement has set the parties involved and the country on a course that hopefully will soon bring to finality the matter which has caused the country undue and unnecessary strain for more than a decade and a half.

Delivering the President¹s report at the ANC¹s 52nd National Conference in Polokwane, President Thabo Mbeki conceded that, one of the most difficult and painful challenges [the ANC has] faced over the last five years have arisen around out of matters affecting our Deputy President.
Part of the difficulty we faced in this regard, which has resulted in
many of our members criticising the NEC for failing to provide
leadership, was that here we were dealing with an unprecedented
situation, and therefore had no body of experience that would help our leadership and movement to deal with this situation adequately. All of us hope that we will and can put these matters behind us sooner rather than later.

Sadly, almost decade since this statement was made, this matter has
visited upon our country, its people and our justice system, long lasting consequences reaching far beyond our borders.

We also hope, that the judgment will finally put to rest, what has been over this period, a sustained narrative, devoid of truth and factual basis, that President Mbeki unduly interfered with law enforcement agencies in an effort to ensure the Prosecution of President Zuma, an otherwise innocent figure, in an effort to prevent him from assuming the  office of the Presidency of the ANC and eventually that of the Republic.
On this instance, one Mr Willie Hofmeyr, disingenuously sought to sustain this false narrative, in a futile effort to aid the NPA¹s case.

As Judge Navsa correctly observed, Mr Hofmeyr, is an experienced
litigator who should know better than to present the case in the manner described in this matter. Professedly advancing the case of NPA’s independence and integrity, he achieved the exactly the opposite.

As we welcome, once again, the formal vindication of our Patron, as the TMF however we derive no joy, due to immense damage this case has caused to our body politic and our country¹s institutions, a phenomenon which continues unabated and will take many years to restore.

It is a shame that we have in our country people charged with the
responsibility of dispensing justice for the sustenance of our
Constitutional democracy who finds it apposite that they can use such positions for the exact opposite ends, regardless of the consequences of their behaviour, as in the case of Mr Hofmeyr.

All what is required in this regard, is for the parties to do what in law
they are required to do.

We would like to urge the NPA, therefore, to act accordingly and
speedily, in the interest of justice and the country, in order to bring
to finality a matter Justice Navsa correctly described, quoting TS Eliot, the recurrent end of the unending.

The people shall govern: What does this mean?

by Thabo Mbeki.

On August 8, 2017 our National Assembly convened to consider and vote on a Motion of Non-Confidence in the President of the Republic, the Honourable Jacob Zuma.

Following a judgement which had been handed down by our Constitutional Court, the Speaker of the National Assembly, Honourable Baleka Mbete, had prescribed that the Members of the National Assembly, our MPs, would respond to the Motion through a secret ballot.

It is a matter of public record that this No-Confidence Motion failed.This was because the majority of the Members of the National Assembly, our MPs, voting in a secret ballot, effectively confirmed their confidence in the President of our Republic.

The process in which the National Assembly engaged, resulting in this outcome, represented an admirable manifestation of the health of our democracy.

This was so because the facts of the open and transparent debate in the National Assembly, and the subsequent secret ballot, made it possible for the National Assembly to illustrate what we should understand about the democratic functioning of our national legislature.

On the face of it, this should have settled the matter about the
important issue of whether, in practice, ours was functioning as a
democratic country, consistent with the objectives for which the ANC and the rest of the National Liberation Movement had engaged in a difficult struggle for many decades.

However, during the debate generated by the Motion of Non-Confidence an important matter arose about whom our MPs represent.

The leadership of the ANC has answered this question in an unequivocal manner.

It has said that the MPs serve in Parliament as representatives of their Political Parties and must therefore consistently speak and vote to defend and advance the views of their Political Parties.

However, twice in a very short period, our Constitutional Court has had to reflect on this very same matter of whom our MPs represent.

The Constitutional Court has correctly sought to answer this question by relying solely on what our National Constitution says, that is by interpreting what the Constitution says.

In this context the Constitutional Court has emphasised that the
transition from apartheid to democracy in our country resulted in a
national agreement that the new South Africa would be a Constitutional Democracy.

In this regard the Court has correctly drawn attention to the provision in our Constitution that the Constitution is the supreme law of our Republic, which all other law and State action must respect.

That supreme law defines the new South Africa as a Constitutional
Democracy. It spells out how the State institutions provided for in the Constitution should function, expressly to give effect to this Constitutional Democracy.

These institutions are the Legislature, the Executive, the Judiciary and the Chapter Nine institutions in support of our democracy. In the end, the Constitutional Court insists that all these institutions,
and all those who serve in them, must understand that they must work within a framework that is specified in our National Constitution, which prescribes that ours is a Constitutional Democracy.

The Constitutional Court made the determinations I have mentioned, concerning the fact of our being a Constitutional Democracy, in its 2016 and 2017 judgements respectively about the Nkandla and Parliamentary Secret Ballot matters.

In this context we must understand that the Constitutional Court was not making new law, illegally assuming the powers of our National Legislature, but was only explaining and interpreting our National Constitution, consistent with its own constitutional mandate.

With regard to all the matters I have mentioned, what is the nub of the matter with regard to the responsibilities and accountability of the Members of Parliament?

The answer to this question has posed a vitally important and strategic challenge concerning the functioning of our democracy.
The ANC leadership has said that its Members of Parliament are
accountable to the ANC, having been deployed by the ANC to serve as MPs. The ANC has therefore said that ANC MPs must vote on all matters essentially on the basis of decisions taken by the ANC leadership.

To the contrary, the Constitutional Court has said that the Constitution prescribes that all Members of Parliament are accountable to the people, the electorate.The position advanced by the Constitutional Court, based solely on what our National Constitution says, rests on an insistence that it reflects
the nature of our State as a Constitutional Democracy.

The situation imposed on us by the contrasted views of the ANC and the Constitutional Court, dictates that we must take a position about who is right ­ that is between the ANC on one hand, and the Constitutional Court, on the other?

The question is, according to our Constitution ­ do the MPs in our
Legislatures represent the political Parties to which they belong, or do they represent the masses of the people who elect our MPs?

It is not difficult to answer this question, especially as it is posed
within such a binary context! It is true that all those who serve in our Legislatures are nominated asCandidate Members of these Legislatures by our various Political Parties,
including the ANC.

During election campaigns our Political Parties present these Candidate. Members of our Legislatures to our people as a whole, the electorate, requesting this electorate to elect these Candidate Members to serve as Members of such Legislatures.

Accordingly the matter at issue is very easy to resolve! Simply, first the Political Parties nominate Candidates for our Legislatures.

Next, the people, the Electorate, vote to decide whom among the PoliticalParty Candidates presented to them as Candidates they want to serve as their Representatives.

What this means is that whoever becomes a Member of any of our
Legislatures, without regard to the nominating Party, is elected by the people.

There is no Member of our Legislatures, [MPs], who serves as such having been elected on the basis of a voters¹ roll made up of members of his or her Party!

All MPs, all of them nominated by their respective Parties, become MPs not on the basis of such nomination, but because they are elected by the people on a non-partisan basis, i.e. by the Electorate.

It is therefore logical that these MPs are accountable not to the
Political Parties which might have nominated them, but to the Electorate which elected them.

This means that the argument advanced by the ANC leadership that ANC members who serve in the National Assembly are accountable to the ANC in terms of the discharge of their Constitutional responsibilities is wrong.

This is because Members of the National Assembly are bound by provisions that are detailed in the Constitution, which therefore supersede all other obligations that attach to membership of Political Parties.

Our Constitution, which defines the parameters for the functioning of our Constitutional Democracy, states, specifically, that Members of Parliament serve as representatives of the people, not Parties ­ that is, the people who elected them, not those who nominated them!

Thus, in terms of the hierarchy of authority, all MPs have a binding,
legal and constitutional obligation to serve the people ­ hence the
argument that MPs should vote according to their conscience, rather than according to dictates from their Political Parties!

Everything I have said so far has sought to discuss Constitutional

However we must also discuss matters that are specific to the ANC, our national governing Party.

This means that we must return to the matter of what the fact of a
Constitutional Democracy means and its implications with regard to the obligations of Members of Parliament (MPs)!

In this regard, the ANC must understand that the fact of our National Constitution and the Constitutional Democracy it establishes stands at the centre and heart of the historic victories of the National Democratic Revolution which the ANC led!

Accordingly, as prescribed in the Ready to Govern, and the Reconstruction and Development Programme (RDP) documents, as well as in Government actions during the period immediately following the 1994 victory, the ANC and the rest of the Democratic Movement insisted that one of the immediate tasks of this Movement was to defend the democratic victory.

Among others in this regard, and of central importance, was the absolute imperative to defend the Constitution and all the democratic gains it represented.

In other words the ANC understood and determined that the 1996 National Constitution represented a seminal outcome of the costly struggle for the victory of the National Democratic Revolution (NDR) for which the ANC had engaged in struggle for more than eight decades.

Accordingly the ANC said this openly that our National Constitution and the democratic system it established were an expression and an essential part of the victory of the NDR.

Among others, this victory, and therefore constitutional arrangement, confirmed and entrenched the system for which the ANC had fought for many decades ­ that the people shall govern!

During the years immediately preceding the formal negotiations to end apartheid rule, ANC delegations had engaged members of the white minority establishment in our country in a vigorous discussion about the real meaning of the objective stated in the Freedom Charter as ­ The people shall govern!

The ANC representatives had to disabuse their white minority
interlocutors of their mistaken view that the Freedom Charter statement ­.The people shall govern ­ was merely a cunning expression to disguise the strategic objective of the ANC that ­ the ANC shall govern!

The ANC insisted that it was truly committed to the view that Œthe people shall govern through a truly democratic system of government.

The ANC delegates at the Constitutional Assembly which concluded the 1996 National Constitution insisted that this Constitution must be constructed in a manner which would respect the principle ­ the people shall govern!

This is exactly the principled commitment which obliged the ANC
negotiators to argue in favour of a proportional representation electoral system, thus to ensure that even the smallest fragment of political opinion in our country would be represented in our Legislatures.

This was part of the ANC insistence that in its political practise
democratic South Africa must respect the principle that the people shall govern.

It was exactly to give expression to this inalienable principle and
outlook that the ANC, the majority Party in the Constitutional Assembly, proposed and agreed to the variety of arrangements which define our country, today, as a Constitutional Democracy.

As the Constitutional Court has said, correctly and acting within its
mandate, our Members of Parliament must function in a manner which respects and gives expression to the long-standing objective of our struggle for national liberation, that ­ the people shall govern!

Accordingly the ANC leadership represented only its partisan interests when it made the assertion that in the context of the Motion of Non-Confidence ANC MPs should vote according to the dictates of the ANC, on the basis that these MPs serve in Parliament only to represent the ANC.

This was contrary to the revolutionary posture advanced by the ANC for many decades that all democratically elected representatives should serve the people, not partisan factions, thus to give practical expression to the perspective that the people shall govern.

In this regard, as the ANC had decided during its many decades of
existence and struggle, all representatives elected through democratic process would serve as representatives of the people ­ thus, as I have said, to give expression to the inalienable principle of any genuine liberation movement that the people shall govern!

Those in the ANC and others who genuinely understand the purposes and outcomes of the national liberation struggle and the meaning of the national democratic revolution (NDR) know this that our National Constitution is one of the greatest victories of our National Democratic Revolution.

Accordingly one of the urgent and continuing tasks of the ANC and other motive forces of the NDR is to defend the National Constitution and entrench the Constitutional Democratic order it prescribes.

It is therefore very strange and puzzling to see members of the ANC doing everything they can to undermine respect for and strict implementation of the Constitution!

Obviously all the foregoing has direct relevance both to the matter of the recent National Assembly Motion of No Confidence in the President of the Republic, and the more general principle of the accountability of the Members of Parliament (MPs).

It is important that with regard to these issues all genuine members of the ANC must understand the long established principles of the ANC as Œa true parliament of the people.

Of fundamental importance with regard to the historic tasks of the
National Democratic Revolution is the achievement of the objective that ­ the people must govern!

Accordingly, all democratically elected representatives of the people, including members of the ANC, must understand that they serve in the Legislatures into which they would have been elected, as representatives of the people ­ thus to give effect to the fundamental objective of the NDR that ­ the people shall govern!

It is therefore incorrect to say that those nominated by our various
Political Parties to various elected State positions, including as this
relates to ANC members, are bound to act solely and exclusively according to whatever would serve the partisan interests of their Political Parties.

The outcomes of the hard and protracted struggle for national liberation, one of whose strategically important results is the establishment of a Constitutional Democracy, prescribe that ultimately all democratically elected representatives serve in our Legislatures as representatives of the people.

These, elected by the people on the basis of an inclusive and universal franchise, are elected to serve as representatives of the people, not the Political Parties which might have presented them to the people as Candidates for election for whichever might be the contested posts to our Legislatures.

All elected representatives are therefore accountable to the electorates which elected them.

In this regard many in our country argue for a further reform of our
electoral system. Accordingly these have suggested that we should
institute a constituency based system of representation for our national representatives, similar to our ward-based system of the election of some of our municipal councillors.

However, recognising the reality of our current electoral law and
practice, it remains true that all Candidates for election to any of our
spheres of government are free to enter into any arrangements with the Parties which nominate them as Candidates for election by the people.

However, such political Party arrangements would, could and should not compromise or undermine the obligation of representatives elected by the people to honour their obligation to account to the people ­ the electorate which elected them.

It is therefore politically incorrect, unconstitutional and illegal to
argue that MPs must discharge their functions as MPs solely on the basis of their political Party affiliations, even if this would be in conflict with their Constitutional obligations.

The ANC, the principal architect of our (1996) National Constitution, has absolutely no right to argue for any action by ANC MPs that would be disrespectful of the provisions of this Constitution.

This includes the discharge of the obligatory constitutional task of the National Assembly, and therefore all its Members, honestly to exercise oversight over the Executive, regardless of the political affiliation of any of these Members of Parliament.

As it played the central role in the drafting of our National
Constitution, determined to establish our country as a Constitutional Democracy, the ANC cannot, now, act in a manner which works to undermine or repudiate our National Constitution, one of the principal achievements of the National Democratic Revolution!

Members of the ANC who also serve as Members of Parliament must understand that they have an obligation to act as both loyal members of the ANC and representatives of the people.

In the end they must understand that they are elected by the people to serve in Parliament as representatives of the people ­ the non-partisan electorate which transforms Candidate Members of Parliament into actual Members of Parliament!

Surely, the ANC can never be one of the Political Parties in our country which argues that ANC Members of Parliament must act in any manner which disrespects the very National Constitution which exactly represents the victory of the National Democratic Revolution!

The masses of our people made enormous sacrifices over a long period of time, even before the formation of the ANC, to ensure that they exercise their right freely to determine their destiny.

At last these masses have acquired the possibility democratically to
elect representatives they believe would serve and advance their

It would be unworthy of and a betrayal of its historic stature that the
ANC should now make the entirely false claim its members, democratically elected by the people as their representatives, are in fact nothing more than mere representatives of the organised formation called the ANC!

The challenge the ANC faces is to ensure that its policies and actual
practice when it is in Government truly represent the popular will, such that its elected representatives are accepted by the people, the
electorate, not as partisan representatives of the ANC, but as true
representatives of the people!

Throughout the century of its existence, during which the black oppressed have voluntarily accepted it as their representative, the ANC has never believed that it constitutes the national collective, the people, thus to elevate itself far beyond its historical status as a mere representative of the people.

It should therefore never be that because of the democratic victory
brought about by the enormous sacrifices of the masses of the people, the persons elected by these masses to serve in our Legislatures should be stripped of their authority as Peoples Tribunes, condemned to serve in our Legislatures merely as representatives of the ANC, rather than as exemplars of the aspiration that the people shall govern!

Our Constitutional Court captured this sentiment very correctly when, in its historic March 31, 2016 Judgement on the Nkandla matter relating to the competence of the Public Protector, it said that:

The National Assembly, and by extension Parliament, is the embodiment of the centuries-old dreams and aspirations of all our people. It is the voice of all South Africans, especially the poor, the voiceless and the least-remembered.Parliament also passes legislation with due regard to the needs and concerns of the broader South African public. The willingness and obligation to do so is reinforced by each (National Assembly) Member s equally irreversible public declaration of allegiance to the Republic, obedience, respect and vindication of the Constitution
and all law of the Republic, to the best of her abilities. In sum,
Parliament is the mouthpiece, the eyes and the service-delivery-ensuring machinery of the people. No doubt, it is an irreplaceable feature of good governance in South Africa.

The ANC would insult these  centuries-old dreams and aspirations of all our people if it asserted that its Members of the National Assembly must abandon their Constitutional obligation to serve as the voice of all South Africans, especially the poor, the voiceless and the least-remembered.

There can never exist any binding obligation on ANC Members of Parliament which can ever override the obligation on all such Members to be the voice of all South Africans, not a collective merely to defend and promote the political supremacy of the ANC, right or wrong!


Statement of the Thabo Mbeki Foundation on the Passing of Comrade Ronnie Mamoepa.

The Thabo Mbeki Foundation joins the wider family of activists and the rest of the country in expressing our deepest condolences to the immediate family of Comrade Ronnie Mamoepa who passed away last night.

Comrade Ronnie was a devoted servant of the people of South Africa, having joined the struggle against apartheid in his teens in the mid-1970s. For his steadfast commitment to the cause of the people, he was imprisoned in apartheid jails, including the infamous Robben Island prison where he served from 1980 to 1985 after being convicted with eight others (the Atteridgeville Nine) at the tender age of 18 on March 12, 1980.

Upon his release from Robben Island, Comrade Ronnie immersed himself in the activities of the United Democratic Front, the South African Youth Congress and underground structures of the African National Congress (ANC). After the unbanning of the ANC in 1990, he became one of the pathfinders of the ANC’s Department of Information and Publicity and served as one of the ANC’s Spokespersons between 1990 and 1994. In 1994, Comrade Ronnie was elected to the Gauteng Provincial Legislature as one of the people’s tribunes.

Comrade Ronnie later became a senior civil servant and more specifically a communicator in The Presidency and the Departments of Foreign and Home Affairs. The longest serving government communicator at the time he died and always ready to lend a helping hand to his colleagues across government departments, Comrade Ronnie was undoubtedly the Dean of Government Communications.

One of the many qualities which those who knew Comrade Ronnie will miss about him is his keen sense of humour and ability to communicate vital truths in jest. There is a story that is told about an incident which occurred at Kgosi Mampuru II Correctional Centre, then Pretoria Central Prison, when Comrade Ronnie was detained during the 1986 – 1987 State of Emergency period.

A rather excited prison warder informed the political prisoners of an inspection visit by a senior prisons official the following day and apprised them of conduct expected of them, including a requirement to salute the visiting prisons official.

Comrade Ronnie immediately retorted and said: “We won’t salute him because we don’t belong to the same army.” The truth of the statement was not lost to the warder despite it being communicated in the characteristic jocular fashion of Comrade Ronnie. The incident illustrates the person Comrade Ronnie was – always loyal to principle and the truth – even as a political prisoner at the hands of a callous enemy. He would sustain this quality to the end. Comrade Ronnie Mamoepa eschewed pettiness, factional calculus and everything that was inimical to the cause of the people.

The ANC, the government and the people of South Africa have lost a loyal cadre, a dedicated civil servant and a model fellow citizen.

His friends, contemporaries and fellow comrades owe Comrade Ronnie a debt of broadcasting the story of his life loudly, far and wide so that it can serve as an inspiration to the current and future crop of civil servants and younger generation of activists.

Our thoughts and prayers are with his family at this difficult time.

May his soul rest in peace.