Thabo Mbeki has come out of temporary political obscurity with guns blazing! The letter he wrote to Jacob Zuma about the state of the party and chronic verbal diarrhoeas of its leadership is a further damaging indictment on the integrity of Zuma. Mbeki, in the best way he knows how, penetrated the defenceless soul of the ANC and its leader and ripped it apart and left it in tatters. The letter by Mbeki has exposed Zuma as lacking a certain trait that is generally expected of a person of his position – honesty.
I urge regular readers of this blog who are blindly loyal to the ANC and Zuma, and who are consistently incensed by revelation of the uncomfortable truth about their party and its leadership, to stop reading any further and risk raising their blood pressure beyond tolerable levels. In case there are any with pacemakers, I humbly request that you do not subject it to a possible malfunction by reading this article as I attempt to decode the real message behind the encrypted Mbeki speak.
The infamous “recall”
It now emerges that the decision to recall Mbeki from office was taken based on the suggestion made by Zuma to the ANC national executive committee. Mbeki reveals that Zuma did not have the guts to personally tell him to resign but instead sent his sidekicks, Kgalema Motlanthe and Gwede Mantashe, in the middle of the night to deliver the bad news. Mbeki said: “They (Motlanthe and Mantashe) informed me that for this reason [vote of no confidence] you [Zuma] suggested that I should resign my position as president of the Republic, which I did.”
It is unbelievable that it was Zuma who suggested to the ANC that Mbeki should be fired. This is a man who early this year stated categorically that Mbeki would be allowed to complete his term. The sudden confidence to abuse and wield newfound power indiscriminately appears to have been inspired by Mbeki when he confided in Zuma on September 19 2008 that he would not resist a decision to recall him. Zuma appears to have betrayed the brotherly trust placed on him and chose to use this information to influence the ANC national executive committee towards a particular decision.
In June 2008, barely four months before Mbeki was unceremoniously removed from office, Julius Malema said: “Why would you want somebody to step down when he is finishing his term next year?,” responding to calls at an Alliance Summit in May 2008 to relieve Mbeki of his duties. Malema then went on to say, “He [Mbeki] is left with less than a year to finish his term so it wouldn’t make sense for him to step down … Mbeki is a good leader of our government.”
Fast forward to September 2009, when Malema contradicted himself and said: “We have approached individual members of the ANC NEC to ensure that the removal of Thabo Mbeki becomes an ANC NEC resolution this weekend, and the majority of them are agreeing with us on this issue …We will have Mbeki removed. We don’t fight to lose. He is going. It doesn’t matter who said what, Mbeki won’t be president when we go to the election.”
Based on the above inconsistencies, one can arrive at the conclusion that Malema’s utterances in June were in line with Zuma’s thinking at the time and subsequently altered in the weeks leading towards Mbeki’s recall to reflect the prevailing thinking of his superiors, particularly Jacob Zuma, with whom he is regularly seen at official ANC gatherings and accompanies him on some ANC missions. When employing the twisted ANC logic, we may by inference further conclude that Malema may have been making such pronouncements on instruction of his superiors.
Mbeki indicates that he reminded Zuma the “incontrovertible fact” that he knew that their “engagement in the struggle for the liberation of our people had never been informed by a striving for personal power, status or benefit.” Zuma has been accused of acts of corruption while serving as deputy president of the country and he has consistently stated that there is a political conspiracy to prevent him from becoming president of the country.
Mbeki appears to have been addressing these important issues of hunger for power on the part of Zuma and his preparedness to sell his soul to the highest bidder. The acceptance of significant financial benefits from Shabir Shaik while still in office as alleged through charges by the National Prosecuting Authority, greatly compromised his integrity. Mbeki was saying to Zuma in so many words that he [Zuma] had betrayed the primary purpose of the struggle for the liberation of our people.
The hypocrisy of Zuma
In a display of the highest degree of hypocrisy, a few weeks ago Zuma told the SABC that Mbeki would be among senior leaders “deployed to garner votes” for the ANC. Again this came at the back of Malema’s statements that Mbeki will campaign for the ANC. Something none of us would expect given the vote of no confidence by the ANC on Mbeki.
Mbeki rightly expresses his dismay at the sudden change of heart barely a month after his dismissal from office when he said:
”I therefore could not understand how the same ANC, which was so disenchanted with me could, within a fortnight, consider me such a dependable cadre as could be relied upon to promote the political fortunes of the very same movement, the ANC, which I had betrayed in such a grave and grievous manner as to require that I should be removed from the presidency of the Republic a mere six or seven months before the end of our term, as mandated by the masses of our people!”
The cult of personality
Mbeki said: “… I find it strange in the extreme that today cadres of our movement attach the label of a “cult of personality” to me, and indeed publicly declare a determination “to kill” to defend your own cause, the personal interests of “the personality”, Jacob Zuma!”
A cult of personality arises when a leader spares no effort to create a heroic public image through unquestioning flattery and praise. There has been a consistent and a deliberate attempt to exaggerate the image of Zuma by portraying him as champion of the cause against poverty and unemployment. To the poor, who are subjected to vile and ignoble existence, Zuma has been thrust before them as the Messiah who will lead them to Canaan.
Cult of personality is the basic ingredient of dictatorship. Josef Stalin is renowned to have possessed the most extensive cult of personality of all time. Similarly, Zuma’s loyal supporters within the ANC and the alliance have showered him with dissolute flattery in an attempt to place him before the public as a victim of malicious mechanisations and an infallible leader. I have in previous articles expounded on evident signs of Stalinism with the ANC.
Mbeki firmly conveys the message that he is repulsed by Zuma’s poisonous ambition to be president of the country by any means necessary; something completely foreign and unbeknown to the ANC. He further said: “Accordingly, we have understood that this revolution has absolutely nothing to do with the personal fortunes of those who might, by virtue of historical accident, be its leaders at any particular moment.”
A nonentity in the greater scheme of things
Mbeki continued to pay homage to heroes and heroines of the liberation struggle; men and women with whom he sacrificed a considerable part of his life to ensure that our people attain freedom from scourge of apartheid. Conspicuous by his absence in those Mbeki mentions as heroes and heroines is Zuma himself, in spite of having worked together for over three decades.
Mbeki said: “All these, and many others I have not mentioned, were and are true heroines and heroes of our struggle … central to the value system of our movement and struggle, that none of these heroes or heroines ever sought adulation in any manner that would turn them into cult figures.”
A subtle message to Zuma was that he was a nonentity in the greater scheme of the struggle; that his newfound rock star fame offends the values upheld by illustrious men and women who dedicated their entire lives to the struggle for liberation.
”You should be ashamed of yourself”
”There is absolutely nothing I have done through this half-a-century of struggle of which I am ashamed. Above all, I know of nothing I have done which, to my knowledge, constitutes a betrayal of the interests of the masses of our people and their confidence in the ANC,” Mbeki said. Zuma has been the subject of a number of indiscretions; from knowingly savouring pleasures of the flesh with an HIV positive woman who was young enough to be his daughter; to making homophobic statements; and selling his soul to the highest bidder in the advancement of his personal ambitions and so on. Mbeki was asking of Zuma to do some introspection and ask himself if the path he is charting the ANC along is consistent with the noble cause for which the struggle was waged.
“Et tu, Brute?” (Even you, Brutus?)
Julius Caesar could not believe that that his dear friend of many years could betray him in the manner that Brutus did. “Et tu, Brute?” is an expression that has found prominence in relation to betrayal by a closest friend. That Mbeki and Zuma had been comrades and brothers for a significant part of their lives is well known. Zuma learnt how to write his name from Mbeki’s father, Govan. Zuma was taught how to fire a gun by Thabo Mbeki; and ironically Zuma had summoned his machine gun with annoying regularity in the period leading up to Polokwane and removal of Mbeki from office.
Mbeki reminded Zuma of his betrayal: “I have taken note of the campaign that some in our ranks, supported by some in our media, have waged for many years focused on discrediting me in particular, given the senior positions I have occupied in the ANC, and the ANC in general. I have constantly been acutely aware of the fact that this campaign has been based on outright lies and deliberate and malicious distortions.”
It is in the public domain that Zuma, in his desperate endeavour to escape prosecution, had focused all his energy to discredit Mbeki in his court applications by claiming he is behind the nonsensical and unproven political conspiracy. By playing victim, Zuma has ensured that Mbeki was vilified; his image impugned and became the target of verbal assaults from within the ANC and the alliance. Mbeki was telling Zuma that he has taken note of his systematic campaign to destroy him.
In this regard, Mbeki humbly requests that Zuma, ”convince these comrades to desist from abandoning their revolutionary democratic obligations by falsely and dishonestly pretending that the goals of the national democratic revolution have been frustrated, if they have been, through the actions of one individual — Thabo Mbeki.”
“Condemn me. It does not matter. History will absolve me.”
Reminiscent of the words of Fidel Castro when he stood before a court of law and uttered these memorable words, in a historic and heart-rending defence against charges for leading an attack on the Moncada Barracks, an event that set off the Cuban Revolution, Mbeki said: ”History will judge whether what I did during my political life, until September 25 2008, is worth anything.” I cannot contest this assertion, more so when witnessing the unfolding of shenanigans within the ANC.
“As a small plea in this regard, I appeal that nobody should abuse or cite my name falsely to promote their partisan cause, including how the 2009 ANC election campaign will be conducted,” Mbeki requested. He had informed Zuma that he harbours no desire to “rule from the grave” and made it clear in no uncertain terms that he wants nothing to do with the circus that the ANC has become under Zuma’s leadership.
Zuma and Mantashe are destroying the ANC! Perhaps the time has arrived for the ANC to similarly express their vote of no confidence in these two toxic men and remove them from their positions in order that the party can unify and focus on the realisation of the ideal of providing a better life for all.