Discussion document is not meant as attack on ANC - Mbeki Foundation

Former President Thabo Mbeki.
Former President Thabo Mbeki.
Image: Alaister Russell/The Times

The Thabo Mbeki Foundation’s internal discussion document on the land debate‚ in which it accused the ANC of abandoning its historical values of non-racialism‚ must not be misconstrued as an attack on the ANC or its leadership‚ CEO Max Boqwana says.

The 30-page document‚ which was leaked from the foundation‚ questioned the ANC’s approach to the land issue‚ saying it marked a shift from the party’s values expressed throughout its 106-year history.

Boqwana said in a statement sent out on Tuesday evening that the document was an internal discussion document of the foundation‚ which resulted from discussions involving various stakeholders‚ “including the mass democratic movement at home and progressive forces abroad”.

He said as a working document‚ it was not yet intended for public consumption‚ but he emphasised that the document was “a constructive response to the ANC and Parliament’s call to the nation to engage in this important debate‚ doing so in the interest of nation building”.

“The foundation and its patron‚ [former] president Thabo Mbeki‚ has therefore taken a keen interest in this debate‚ informed largely by the historical positions that the ANC has taken over years‚” Boqwana said.

“Instead of the document being misconstrued as an attack on the ANC and/or its leadership‚ it must be accepted as a call for a serious‚ reflective and constructive discourse on the matter that has bedevilled our country throughout the colonial and apartheid period to date‚” he added.

The discussion paper said the communication from the ANC around the land question‚ which has framed the debate on black versus white‚ indicated that the ANC is no longer “a representative of the people of SA“.

It argued that while the land question is an imperative that should be addressed‚ it has to be done while simultaneously responding to the “national question“‚ which is to unite South Africans across race and class divides.

The paper said the posture of some leaders in the ANC mirrored more the position of the EFF than that of the governing party‚ which was “long established through its history and its former leaders‚ as well as in the Freedom Charter“.

Boqwana said the foundation was in full agreement with the national sentiment that the land question as an historical injustice required urgent redress‚ but that in doing so‚ they were of the view that the matter should be attended to with “the due seriousness its complexity requires”.

He said the foundation therefore makes the point to draw the public and particularly the ANC to the argument that the land and national question was intimately interconnected and that it could not be addressed outside of the national question.

He said the historical debates and positions of the ANC must be affirmed‚ and that the ANC must lead a critical engagement on the policies of the past 24 years adopted by the democratic government to address the land question‚ but also to to answer the question – “what is to be done?”

Boqwana said in the event of any departure from its historical positions‚ “the ANC as the leader of society has the responsibility honestly to engage society and explain what occasioned such departure”.

The foundation urged the public to critically engage with the document.

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