'Thieving leaders ruining SA'

Former president Thabo Mbeki. PHOTO: SIMPHIWE NKWALI
Former president Thabo Mbeki. PHOTO: SIMPHIWE NKWALI

Former president Thabo Mbeki has spoken out against leaders who are "thieves" and those who are violating the constitution of the country.

Yesterday, Mbeki lamented what he called the lack of "progressive leadership" in Africa.

The Thabo Mbeki Foundation held a question-and-answer session with the students of the Thabo Mbeki African Leadership Institute.

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Mbeki said the constitution of the country was a product of the struggle and negotiations and that he did not expect those who formed part of these processes to violate it.

The former president's comments came after President Jacob Zuma's administration lost several cases in the courts, notably the Constitutional Court (ConCourt).

The ConCourt recently forced Zuma to pay R7.8-million for non-security upgrades at his Nkandla home. This was after public protector Thuli Madonsela found that Zuma had unduly benefited from the Nkandla upgrades and had violated the constitution in the manner he handled the whole saga.

Last week, the Supreme Court of Appeal found State Security Minister David Mahlobo had violated the constitution by jamming signals during the state of the nation address last year.

Mbeki said he did not expect those involved in the struggle to violate the constitution.

"The constitution is the product of the struggle; we own that constitution. I would not expect that the same owners of the constitution would want to violate it," he said.

Mbeki said the biggest challenge the country and the continent was facing was the need for "progressive leadership".

"What the continent needs is a progressive leadership to effect the change we need. And a progressive leader is a leader who says 'my task is to serve the people, to ensure that the quality of life of the people changes for the better' . and therefore that progressive leader would not be a thief. Because you can't say because I am a progressive leader and therefore serve the interests of the people ... but in that course I will also put something in [the] pocket," he said.

"The problem, therefore, on the continent is not the general quality of leadership, but the challenge of progressive leadership."

Asked about public unhappiness with the ANC and the perception that many in the ANC were loyal to the ruling party and not the country, Mbeki said this was not supposed to be the case. There ought to be no conflict between loyalty to the party and the country, he said.

Mbeki added that some were only loyal to the ANC because they were using it as a vehicle for self enrichment and not to fight the legacy of apartheid and colonial oppression.

H said the problem of self-enrichment in the ANC was raised as early as the party's 1997 conference in Mafikeng by former president Nelson Mandela.

Subsequent conferences of the ANC also spoke about corruption and self-enrichment, Mbeki said.

Mbeki recounted a story of how the former director-general in his presidency, Frank Chikane, was told by those who removed Mbeki in 2007 that "the problem with your chief was that he would not allow us to put something in our pockets".

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