The letter Jacob Zuma should write in reply to Thabo Mbeki.
ANC president Jacob Zuma seems unable or unwilling to respond to former president Thabo Mbeki’s letter to him.
The letter the ANC didn’t want you to see
Read Mbeki’s full letter
This is what he should write back:
Dear Comrade Thabo,
Thank you for your commiserations about the burden of leading our noble movement and the challenges that we now face. As I said in my closing speech in Polokwane, “leaders lead through the will and graciousness of the people”.
I draw strength from the fact that I was democratically elected by our cadres, in a free and fair contest whose legitimacy no one in our noble organisation has contested. This knowledge of the democracy of our movement — and particularly the responsibilities it places on all of us, winners and losers — helps me weather the storms we are facing.
I intend to draw, throughout this letter, on a quotation that our late leader and your mentor, Comrade Oliver Reginald Tambo, loved. It is familiar to you, for you love it too. It is Amilcar Cabral: “Tell no lies, claim no easy victories”.
Let me first deal with the matter of whether or not you are involved with the splinter grouping led by Comrade Terror Lekota and others. I accept your explanation that you were not consulted on the matter. I do, however, need to make the point that Comrade Mbhazima Shilowa resigned his position as Gauteng premier on Monday September 29 and went on to spend the whole evening with you until 3am the next day.
Then he spent all of the morning of September 30 with you until he left to appear on the Jenny Crwys-Williams show on 702 Talk Radio that day. He was with you until noon.
I will not make so bold as to speculate on your friendship. However, I find it strange that you spent so much time together without once discussing so pressing a matter as Comrade Mbhazima’s contemplating launching a new party.
That said, I understand that you have in the past suffered from inexplicable memory loss. You, after all, told the parliament of the Republic of South Africa that you do not “recall” the meeting you held in Paris with the arms manufacturer Thint.
I merely hope that Comrade Mbhazima will soon “recall” that you might have discussed so pressing a matter. Another close friend of yours, Comrade Essop Pahad, did after all “recall” that he met Thint after being “reminded” by his office.
I shall not dwell on your acceptance of ANC resolutions to recall you from the presidency of the country. As a disciplined cadre of our movement, this is what is expected of you. When you removed me from my position in both the cabinet and the deputy presidency of the ANC in 2005, I submitted in as humble a manner as you did this September. I did not shout from the rooftops about how “democratic” I am by this. I do not wish to indulge in a contest of “I am more democratic than thou” at the present moment.
I am impressed by the heroes and heroines that you have, over your 52 years in your movement, interacted with. You mention these heroes when making the point that the “cult of personality” is alien to our people and our noble movement. You are right. But let us tell no lies, comrade.
You invented the personality cult in the ANC. You stood by and did not say a word when your acolytes, such as Christine Qunta, took out full-page advertisements in the Sunday Times singing your praises and pledging their loyalty to you.
It was your office in the state presidency that twisted the arm of Absa to pay the controversial Ronald Suresh Roberts, to write what is arguably the most sycophantic, outrageous book ever written about an ANC member or leader. Indeed, the cartoonist Zapiro was correct to depict Roberts embedded up your behind. It is what you demanded of all ANC members. Thankfully, you never got it.
You harp on about the 52 years that you have spent in the ANC. It is worth remembering why many of us join the ANC. We join to pursue the noble goal of establishing a united, non-racial, non-sexist and democratic South Africa where our children can live without fear.
In this regard I was shocked that you mention the name of Comrade Winnie Nomzamo Madikizela-Mandela as a heroine of yours. Is it not this very person who you once struck down violently? Does your understanding of “non-sexist” in our lexicon not include the abuse of women, let alone our “mothers”?
I note that you accuse “analysts” and commentators of lying about you. You proffer no names, no evidence, to back up your claims. This is cowardly. I refer to Comrade OR again: ‘Tell no lies, claim no easy victories.”
So name the analyst who has accumulated this fantastic wealth you talk about. Put your evidence on the table. I am shocked and surprised that you still think you can get away with innuendo and fabrications; that you can continue to peddle these discredited conspiracy theories about patriotic South Africans allegedly working for shadowy forces.
“You claimed the same on HIV/Aids. You claimed the same against comrades Tokyo, Cyril and Mathews. You claimed the same conspiracies on Zimbabwe. Yet to this day you proffer no evidence except this conspiracy twaddle. The truth shall set you free, Comrade Thabo. Tell it — if you have it.
Otherwise do us all in this noble movement a favour. Shut up.
You bemoan the utterances of the president of the ANC Youth League. Yes, he has outraged the country. But it is worth noting that when Archbishop Desmond Tutu took you on about the culture of intolerance that you established in the ANC, you put him down with the injunction that he has never been a member of the ANC. It is notable that in all your time in the ANC you have never been a member of the ANC Youth League or Youth Section in exile.
If you had, perhaps you would understand that the rhetoric of the current president of the ANCYL is in the traditions of Mda, Lembede, Mandela and Mokaba. It is noteworthy, comrade, that it was Mokaba, who used to chant “Kill the farmer, kill the Boer”, who elevated you to the presidency of the ANC in 1997.
You did not say a word then about a culture of violence in the ANC.
I am quite frankly taken aback by your new-found “rejection of the emergence of a black compradore bourgeoisie which, in the context of BBBEE, is ready to front both for the domestic white and international capitalists”.
Are you referring to the immoral Telkom deal in which you essentially handed over our state resources to your personal friends Smuts Ngonyama and Gloria Serobe? Are you referring to your friend Ngonyama’s infamous quotation with regards to this looting of our people’s wealth: “I did not join the struggle to be poor?”
This is but one example of how, during your term in office, you encouraged the fronting by blacks for the same people you refer to today as capitalists. Tell no lies …
You say that history will judge your presidency. The rough draft is looking appalling: 300 000 people died for lack of antiretroviral medication because you intimidated all of us into a despicable silence on HIV/Aids. I can only hope, comrade, that you sleep easy at night with such a statistic hanging over you. For myself, I can only say: never, never again should such moral dereliction sit at the head of our noble movement!
It is interesting that you end your letter with the words “Amandla! Matla!”
This is a long-standing salutation in our movement. In English, the call and response goes: “All power! To the people!”
That has been our guiding slogan for decades. Power to the people, not to the individual: you, me or anyone else. That is why we are Congress. It is a slogan that should have guided you as the people comprehensively voted you out of the presidency of our movement in Polokwane.
Our movement needs renewal. It is at a crossroads. Barney Pityana is correct that our country lacks commitment to “virtue in politics”. An acknowledgement from you that the rot set in when you were the ANC’s president, and that you are prepared to work with me to go back to the tenets of Mandela, Tambo and Pixley ka Seme, would begin this tough — yet necessary — journey back to the essence of the African National Congress.
Power to our people,
Jacob Gedleyihlekisa Zuma
Monday, November 17, 2008
The letter Jacob Zuma should write in reply to Thabo Mbeki.