Interview with President Thabo Mbeki on SABC Radio & Television, 05 November 2007 (Transcription provided by GCIS)

Presenter: It’s just less than two weeks before leadership election and it is the first time since the party’s unbanning in 1990 that the seat of the ANC Presidency is being contested. Both President Mandela and President Thabo Mbeki were consensus candidates. The question is, where has the spirit of consensus disappeared? Some senior ANC leaders have alluded to two camps in the leadership battle and that this may threaten the traditional unity in the party. Will this polarisation cause irreparable damage or is it just part of the normal internal discourse in a democratic organisation? Historically the party is known for the traditions and values that members always put the interests of the party first. It looks as if the current factional tussles within the ANC may threaten these traditions and values.

President Mbeki: No, I don’t think so. I think that what we’ve got to accept is in fact what the ANC Constitution says. And the ANC Constitution says that all members of the ANC are entitled to run for any position in the ANC. And I think we’ve got to respect that. And so when people run for any position in the ANC, that has to be very much part of the nature of the ANC. It’s got to be part of its character, it’s got to be part of the expression of democracy within the ranks of the ANC. I don’t think we should read contests for leadership positions in a negative light. But indeed, as an affirmation of democracy within the ANC, representative of the fact that the ANC in any case stands for a democratic South Africa, you couldn’t say ‘we want a democratic South Africa but we’ll resort to undemocratic practices within our ranks.’ That would be wrong.

Presenter: Mr President, looking at the conduct of some of the ANC leaders in the run-up to Polokwane, it seems as if a new tradition of public campaigning is developing within the ANC. Do you think this fits in with the values and traditions of the liberation movement in the continent?

President Mbeki: Once you have a situation such as we have now, where people are contesting different positions, I suppose it would be natural to expect that the different candidates, who would then seek to market themselves, to say why I would be better in this position than somebody else, it may be as you indicate, that it’s not really very much in the history and tradition of the ANC, but I am saying that once there were different candidates, opposing candidates for different positions, I would imagine that there are people who would want to explain themselves to the membership as to why I am better than another person. And therefore you would get that campaigning in that context. I don’t think it’s avoidable.

Presenter: The ANC has been the only party that has been in power since the dawn of democracy in South Africa in 1994. Can I ask you Mr President, in your opinion, what do you think are the biggest achievements of the ANC Government since 1994 when it came to power?

President Mbeki: Well, I think very many. The first thing of course is the establishment of the democratic system itself in the country. You will remember the challenges that we still faced in 1994, you still had quite a lot of violence, political violence taking place in the country. That’s to all intent and purposes disappeared. You remember, not that long ago, I addressed Parliament and said we wanted to open space to people who were serving prison sentences, who had not been dealt with in the TRC process, and we put the cut-off date as 16 th June 1999. And the reason we said 1999, is because that violence continued after 1994. I’m saying I think that’s a very big achievement that you then had a disappearance of that political violence and a stability. And the construction of the democratic system in this country in all of its forms, and indeed a lot of the praise that comes to South Africa from the rest of the world, is based precisely on the basis of that kind of achievement. I think the second major achievement is we actually turned round the economy. The economy of South Africa in 1994 was in decline, in all respects. It’s been turned round and you have now this growing economy and indeed the problems, a lot of the problems that we’re experiencing now, are problems of growth, not problems of decline. And I would say the third thing is, again if you look at the way that we’ve addressed the matter of providing a social security net, particularly to address the position of very poor people. So you see the social grants, and that kind of intervention. There’s been a very, very strong intervention in that area, to make sure that people don’t fall below a certain level. And then of course you’ve seen also what is called a social wage – the free housing that has been provided, basic electricity, basic water, and service like that, to help to improve the quality of life of the people. I would say the other thing that is of great significance is the way we’ve turned round the relationship between South Africa and the rest of the African continent. Because again, you remember the history of the Apartheid years, is a history of South African aggression against the rest of the continent. That’s changed radically in the opposite direction, where the whole continent feels that South Africa is their strongest ally in terms of building a peaceful continent, a democratic continent, a prosperous continent, re-establishing Africa’s place in the world. That’s the direct opposite of what was represented by the Apartheid years. So, I am saying that there is a whole range of matters. You must have seen the Community Survey which was issued by Statistics SA quite recently, where they were measuring this, and they said they’re measuring the undertakings that were made in the RDP, when we adopted the RDP as Government in 1994, coming out of the Alliance in fact, measuring what progress has been made, whether it is housing or water or electricity, these kinds of things, and so enormous progress has been achieved with regard to that. So I am saying, that across all fronts, there are many achievements of this kind. This is not to minimise the fact that we remain still, with very, very serious problems, very serious challenges in all areas. Areas of job creation, areas of housing and all sorts of areas like this, which should not surprise anybody because what we inherited from the past was so deeply entrenched and so pervasive, so massive, that indeed you couldn’t, not in thirteen years, you couldn’t eradicate that legacy. But I think the record in terms of these kinds of changes that I have been talking about, the record really speaks for itself.

Presenter: You often refer to the two economies in this country as part of the post-apartheid South Africa’s problems. On one part of the economy you find the majority of the people who are all so poor and on the other side, the higher level of economy, you find a few people who are different, who are rich. Do you think the divide has been breached?

President Mbeki: Yes, certainly to some extent. You have seen even negative tendencies that were correctly raised, for instance, the fact of an economy that was retrenching workers. That’s turned round in more recent years, where the economy is indeed creating new jobs, not enough in terms of people who require jobs, but it’s a turnaround. Or you would see it in terms of the growth of people who – black people – who access levels of economic activity, professional activity and so on, which is essentially excluded, from which, particularly the Africans who were essentially excluded in the past. That’s why people talk about the growth of a black middle class and so on, it’s part of that process. So, certainly yes. There’s some bridging that’s taking place but the fact of the matter is that the racial divides of the past, in terms of access to resources, access to opportunity, access to income and all that, that divide remains. Progress has been made, but it’s an inherent part of what we see concerning the building of a non-racial society. That is work in progress. We can’t say we have succeeded in building a society that is of equal South Africans on a racial basis, indeed on a gender basis. We can’t say that because we haven’t got there yet. So that is very much a work in progress, despite the progress that has been made.

Presenter: Mr President, I am going to refer to StatsSA, to which you referred to earlier on, which looks really wonderful for the performance of the ANC Government since it came to power in 1994. It talks for example, about lighting having been delivered to the point of 88.6% of the population in South Africa, enjoying water 60%, people now have flush toilets. You have also ensured that there’s a strong economic growth and stability in the country and these facts speak for themselves from StatsSA. But despite these remarkable achievements Mr President, under your stewardship by and large, in the recent nomination process, your leadership support from four provinces, that does not seem to reflect the excellent work or the apparently excellent work which you are doing and the government has been doing. Why do you think this has happened?

President Mbeki: Well, I don’t know. But as I was saying, you see, once we say the ANC is a democratic organisation and its members should be allowed freely to access their democratic rights, of course membership is perfectly entitled to conclude that they would prefer such and such a person for such and such a position, for whatever reason. And no doubt, I suppose the membership would look at various issues, various factors and might look at the matters that we’ve just cited now, about the ones we were talking about earlier, the progress that has been made in various areas, but they may very well look at other issues, and say on balance, we believe this person would be better rather than another one. But I’m saying that I think that we really need to accept the consequences of our own affirmation of the democratic processes within the ANC.

Presenter: The Stellenbosch Conference also resolved that the ANC will build a Tripartheid Alliance, Mr President. You know that you mobilise a broad movement for transformation and said at the time that close working relations between alliance partners at all levels are required. But looking at statements coming from Cosatu and the SACP, especially in recent times in the run-up to Polokwane, it sounds as if exactly the opposite has happened.

President Mbeki : No, that would be incorrect to say exactly the opposite has happened. You talk about Stellenbosch 2002.

Presenter: That’s right.

President Mbeki: Now, take for instance, I’ll just cite one or two instances. Take for instance, you had the general elections in 2004. Now, the Manifesto that we took to the country on the basis of which the ANC was elected again into National Government, that manifesto is a document of the Alliance. It was not just an ANC document. The Alliance got together and said ‘what are the policy positions put to the population, what is the problem we put to the population?’ The same thing happened with the election manifesto for the local government elections last year, 2006. So I’m just mentioning some instances like that. So it would be incorrect to say that what was said at Stellenbosch, which is in the history of the Alliance in any case, didn’t happen. It might very well be that there might be complaints, indeed as there are, about the manner in which the Alliance has worked, that it hasn’t worked with the same sense of cohesion, hasn’t had regular meetings and all of that. But I don’t want to get into the detail of that, because you would have to start, first of all with the meetings of the secretaries – the ANC Secretary General, the General Secretary of the Communist Party, the General Secretary of Cosatu, to address the more technical matters, as it were. Have these meetings been taking place? What have they been discussing? You’d have to count that to say, ‘have these secretaries been meeting? What have they been discussing,’ and build up from there. So I’m saying I don’t want to take that particular route, but it would be incorrect to say that there hasn’t been this co-operation. Or take even a more recent matter. You know what happens every year. The National Executive Committee of the ANC meets in January every year and invites delegations from the Communist Party and Cosatu and indeed, SANCO. We sit at that Lekgotla, which should be three days, and we look at the work of government for the year. It’s an Alliance meeting. After that, a week later, the Cabinet meets in its own Lekgotla and we would then go to the Cabinet Lekgotla to say ‘this is a problem that came out of the Lekgotla that took place a week earlier,’ because I said it’s an Alliance, it’s an ANC meeting, but with the participation of delegations from the allied parties. We then take that to Cabinet and say, ‘well, here is what came out of there, how do we translate it into a programme?’ So I’m really just making the point that it would be incorrect for anybody to make an argument as though there hasn’t been a continuing engagement. There might be differences about many things. It might be that the engagement is not sufficient, but to argue that there wasn’t, is wrong. And to argue that, certainly from the point of view of the ANC, that the ANC tried to block or discourage that engagement would be quite incorrect.

Presenter: You sound a bit optimistic about the glue that is keeping the Alliance together. Will it stick?

President Mbeki: Well, I’m sure it will. You see, the Alliance we’re talking about, was not a product of clever people. Actually, it came out of the objective situation in our country, where the ANC as the National Liberation Movement, the Communist Party as a party of workers fighting for socialism and Trade Union Federation, Cosatu, focused on the matter of addressing the interests of the workers. Objectively, it was in their interest to work together, each to advance their own purpose, but that Alliance was important. And I’m quite convinced that conditions which we face today still dictate the need for that co-operation. So I’m saying that it wasn’t a product of clever people who need an alliance. It’s the objective situation itself in the country, which produces. This is why this Alliance is many decades old. It survived changes of leadership in all three organisations. And the reason it has survived all those changes in all those decades, is because the situation demands it. So I’m quite sure it will continue.

Presenter: One of the unanimous recommendations from the National Policy Conference in June this year which was held in Midrand, was the acceptance of the 50-50 Gender Parity Principle in the make-up to the National Executive Council of the ANC. Does this principle also apply to the top six of the ANC? 50-50 parity?

President Mbeki: Well, as I recall the decision of the policy conference, it didn’t make any distinctions. It talked about gender parity and indeed I must say that, even when we raised this matter in connection with the 2006 local government elections and said that the candidate lists of the ANC ought to reflect that gender parity, and indeed the comrades who were handling this, the local government election, worked very hard to achieve that. It was never said that we exclude mayors from this, you may not have gender parity with regard to mayors. There was no such thing. And as I say, as I recall it, the decision of the National Policy Conference, it also didn’t make any distinctions, so I suppose, yes indeed, it should affect also, the top six as well. No reason why it shouldn’t.

Break

Presenter: You yourself, at least that’s what some people have said, how do you feel in particular, about the Women’s League nomination, especially in the light of your expressed views about women in the presidency?

President Mbeki: Well, again as I was saying. I think that we, I mean if we say we are democrats, then we must behave like democrats. And all of the structures of the ANC that have a right to make nominations, we must accept processes that come out through that democratic process of making nominations. So from my point of view, it’s perfectly all right if ANC structures conduct these democratic processes and nominate whomever they want. The positions about gender equality, we were talking about this thing now, the positions about gender equality are not Thabo Mbeki positions, as was reflected for instance in the National Policy Conference as you were saying earlier. They reflect the view of the ANC and they reflect even what is in the Constitution. When we talk about the National Constitution, we are talking not just about the ANC Constitution. When we talk about building a non-sexist society, an element of that non-sexist society must surely be this kind of equality. So that’s what I’m saying, that they are not particular positions of the president of the ANC and I think it would be incorrect to argue that, because the president of the ANC reflected what in reality has been their policy for many, many years, reflecting a general opinion in the ANC that the president needs to be rewarded for asserting, affirming what in fact is a general view of the movement. So the Women’s League is perfectly entitled to see whoever it is they want to nominate. I don’t think we should say ‘why did they do it’, given the position that the president has been taking. Because I’m saying, as was reflected at the National Policy Conference, I think these are views that are general and pervasive throughout the ANC.

Presenter: At the Policy Conference there was also a general agreement that the ANC president should preferably be the ANC candidate for the President of the Republic. There was also a strong view that this must not be made a principle. Should you be elected ANC president there in Limpopo in two weeks time, how will you deal with this issue in the context of the debate about the two centres of power?

President Mbeki: Well, this matter is very clear. I’m not quite sure how this argument about two centres of power arose. I was talking to you just now about these two Makgotla that take place in January every year, where the ANC together with its allies, they meet, they discuss policy and then the Cabinet meets a week later and then looks at what has come out of that process to translate that into government programmes. The fact of the matter is that ever since we came into government in 1994, this government which has been predominantly ANC governments led by the ANC even when there were other parties in government as well, consistently throughout all its thirteen years, the programmes and policies followed by government are programmes and policies that have emanated from the ANC. That’s the body that originates policy and the body to whom we, the members of the ANC deployed in government, have to report. I mean, even now, going to the conference in Limpopo, one of the provisions in the constitution of the ANC is that the president of the ANC must submit a political report to National Conference. This political report, it says specifically, must include an assessment of the State of the Nation, not just what’s happening in the ANC, but the State of the Nation. It’s that reason it’s in the ANC Constitution so that we can then say ‘this is what has happened.’ In the context of policy positions that have been taken by the ANC, some say that in the end, the ANC government is accountable to the ANC. So there isn’t any major policy that government has implemented since 1994. There isn’t one singly major policy position, policy programme on government’s side that hasn’t emanated from decisions of the ANC. So the notion that there were two centres of power, which means the ANC is a centre of power, it originates policy, government is another centre of power which originates policy. This is false. And there’s nobody who can actually show in any practical way that any of that has happened. As I’m saying, this is what has happened, that’s why StatsSA, the thing that we were talking about earlier, the Community Survey, they actually pose the question directly. Here’s a commitment that was made with regard to the RDP. That was an Alliance commitment. It was not just ANC. It was an Alliance commitment. And it said this is what we want to achieve with regard to the reconstruction and development of South Africa. And the governments, our governments, successive governments since then, have said what is it that we need to do to realise these objectives. It didn’t originate from government. They originated from the ANC and the Alliance. So I’m saying that I’m quite certain that this notion of two centres of power as things are, there’s a government made up of ANC people deployed by the ANC who pursue policies that are not ANC policies, is wrong.

Presenter: The current divisions within the ANC, especially in relation to the Polokwane Conference, they must worry you, I’m sure. Do they?

President Mbeki: Well, I approach them as I keep saying, as an expression of democratic practices within the ANC. And from that point of view, they ought not to be worrying. What is important is that that process should be handled as a normal democratic process. The people who might be opposing one another in that contest, must not see themselves as enemies and therefore when I win, I’m going to fix my enemy who opposed me. That’s not part of this democratic process. But I think the democratic contest among members of the ANC who really need to accept that, and so in itself it should not be worrying. But I’m saying, the manner in which it is handled, of course can create problems, because in the end, at the end of Polokwane, you will still have the ANC. And you must ensure that you have an ANC that functions continuously to discharge its responsibilities to the people and all of that. So in itself, the contest is not a worrying matter, but it’s got to be handled in a way that doesn’t produce entrenched divisions that would result in the interests of the ANC attending to the interests of the people, the ANC being consumed by an internal fight among different factions. Instead of doing what it is supposed to do, you have an ANC that then destroys itself, because you’ve got these entrenched factions. That has to be avoided. But I’m saying, the fact of people contesting position, not in itself, to be really a cause of worry.

Presenter: One of the draft resolutions for the conference deals with the future of the provinces. What is your view on the possible reduction or reconfiguration of the provinces of South Africa?

President Mbeki: Well, that is work that is going on, certainly on the government’s side. It’s not merely a matter of number of provinces and all that, it’s to look at the entirety of our system, national, provincial, local. Is this system working in the way that we thought it should? And it may very well be a matter of, for instance, are there not some tasks which are better carried out at local level rather than provincial? Are there not some tasks which should be carried out at national level, rather than provincial? And the other way round. So it may very well be that, not so much that you’re looking at reduction in provinces and so on, but distribution of tasks, distribution of functions. It’s a matter that arises all the time. For instance, if you take education. National Education Department sets policy with regard to education. But in fact, the entire schooling system is the responsibility of provincial government. So they get their annual allocations – the provinces – for education, so then they meet in their own legislatures and do their own budgeting and so they will allocate, so much money goes to primary schools, so much money goes to secondary schools and so on. It may be that in some instances where those allocations are made in the provinces, which is a legitimate thing in terms of our constitution, are inconsistent with the objectives set at national. So you’ve got to sort out things like that. As I say, they may not be just about the number of provinces. So, that work is going on in government, certainly, to look at that and I’m quite sure that there will be a report to say what do we do about the totality of these matters. I mean, you still have in some instances continuing discussions even about the role of traditional leaders. Relations with traditional leaders to elect at local government. In some areas we still have some people continuing to raise this. So it’s the entirety of the system of government that has to be addressed. And we may find that it’s perfectly okay as it is. So it’s not just a matter of number of provinces

Presenter: Which reminds me of this perception, often which is bandied about, that you are one President who is known to centralise power and that you are the only one who knows what’s happening. That perception, where does it come from? Is it a fair thing to say?

President Mbeki: Well, I’ve asked in ANC meetings. I’ve asked this question. Because I hear this allegation made. And I said, look, can people indicate to me on what basis they come to this conclusion. And nobody has ever explained to me because I don’t know where it comes from. Let me just mention for instance. You know, while I have been President of the Republic and have to appoint Ministers and Deputy-Ministers, what happens, is that I will do nominations, so and so for this post etc. and then call the national officials of the ANC and say to them, ‘this is what I propose, what do you think?’ So we sit, we discuss this matter, they say no, not this one, change this one, put this one there and why have you forgotten this one, you know, all of that. And that’s what gets announced as a Cabinet. There’s no Cabinet that’s appointed exclusively by the President. And even in terms of the implementation of the decision that was taken in 1997 concerning premiers, the same process. I consult the provincial chairs of the ANC to say, look, in fulfilment of this decision of the Mafikeng Conference in 1997, this is what I think should happen with regard to the Premiers, and consult all the chairs of the ANC and the provinces. This is my view, what do you think? And they make their own input, after which I go back to the national officials to say, look, this is what has come out of my process of consultation with the provincial chairs, what do you think? And that’s where the decision comes from. So, as I say, I’m going to have to pose this question. What is the centralisation about power? What are its manifestations? Exactly what has happened which suggests this? And really, nobody has answered this.

Presenter: The conference must also decide on floor crossing when they meet in two weeks time. Do you think floor crossing should be abolished or is it too beneficial for the ANC to grow its ranks in between elections?

President Mbeki: Well, I must say that first of all, you see the ANC was opposed to floor crossing. The argument was that we have this system of proportional representation and parties get elected and get so many votes and therefore so many representatives. And once you have allowed floor crossing, you impact negatively on that. The matter was really brought to the fore when the then Democratic Party, and the New National Party, insisted that this had to be done, because of challenges they were facing. So we said all right, let’s do it. And then we tried to restrict its impact by saying that you know you need a minimum number of people before you can say it’s all right – so you know that there is this minimum that we have in the law. So I’m saying, that first of all, we need to be clear about this. This thing did not originate from the ANC. It originated from other people. And we responded to a demand that came from other people. We said ‘all right, we’re the ruling party, it’s not our idea, but we’re listening to other people so let’s do it’. So I have said, speaking as President of the Republic, to the Members of Parliament, all the political parties, they should discuss this, because, what became law, came out of a discussion in Parliament, with regard to this floor-crossing business. I’ve said to them, ‘go back to this matter, discuss it, and come back to government, because in the end government must then draft the legislation and all that, but discuss it.’ It’s true, the matter has arisen in the ANC context also. And indeed, I hope the matter is discussed in Polokwane so that a decision is taken about it. The original position of the ANC was, as I say, opposed. But I must also say, part of the argument that arose was that you had a very fluid political situation in the country. For instance, you had people who had been brought up to fear the ANC. The ANC was terrorist, the ANC was going to do all sorts of terrible things. So they vote against the ANC. But after they watched the ANC in government for two years, three years, and suddenly said ‘but we’ve been told lies about the ANC. The ANC is not like that. We want to move to the ANC.’ We’re saying it might also be incorrect to freeze the political situation in the country and not allow people to move as they get more exposed to one another, and indeed you might even say that ANC members might have a particular perception of the DA and the more they get to know the DA, they change their minds. To say that we can’t allow, shouldn’t stop the possibility for South Africa to normalise, come out of its past by saying ‘you can only move after five years.’ That was part of the argument. But let’s put all of those arguments into one pot, whether in Parliament or in the ANC National Conference, and see what comes out of it.

Presenter: The ANC Conference, the presidential race, is being touted as a two-horse race. It looks a bit acrimonious, not so much from the two protagonists themselves, but from some people purporting to be supporters of either of the two protagonists.

President Mbeki: Well yes, again we come again to a matter we discussed earlier. As I was saying, I think that once you have people nominated for the same position, and therefore become opponents in that sense, you must expect that people will come baying for their candidate. But again, I’m repeating myself. It’s very important that, that particular debate and campaigning and so on, must not be handled in a manner as though there is no tomorrow. After we finish in Polokwane, there will be a tomorrow. There must be an ANC, an ANC which has got its tasks, which has got its responsibilities to the people. You can’t begin to treat Polokwane National Conference as though it’s the beginning and the end of everything. You’ve got to consider what happens afterwards, so people who might be campaigning, need to conduct themselves in a manner that recognises that we’ve got that responsibility to the future and in particular, a responsibility to the integrity of the ANC and responsibility of the people of the ANC to the masses of the people.

Presenter: Do you think maybe it’s a bit threatened sometimes when you look?

President Mbeki: Well, no. I think that…I mean for us members of the ANC, we’ve got to fight to ensure that we maintain that cohesion, that integrity of the ANC and work to ensure that the ANC doesn’t forget its responsibilities to the people. So I think it’s the task of all members of the ANC to discharge those responsibilities.

Break

Presenter: To the listeners out there, we are taking calls directly to the President. . . . . . President Thabo Mbeki, in his capacity here as the ANC president, is ready and willing to take your calls. Anything that’s on your chest, that’s on your mind, the President is here to take your questions and answer them. Mr President, while we’re waiting for more callers to come through, one of the things that you’ve been quoted as saying in the newspapers, especially over the weekend, was that you may consider calling an early election should Mr Zuma be elected as ANC President. Why do you think calling an early election will be necessary?

President Mbeki: No, no, no. That was misquoted. The journalists asked me a question. They said there are people who are saying that in the event that you are not elected president in Limpopo, it might be necessary to have a change of government and so on. So I said no, I hadn’t thought about the matter, as I hadn’t, and then said that if there were to be such a decision it would be an ANC decision. It would not be my decision. So, no! The matter did not originate from me. I never raised it. But they said, the journalists, the matter had been raised and what was my view, and essentially what I was saying was that’s a matter that would be decided by the ANC.

Presenter: Mr President, we’ve got Thomas from Mpumalanga on the line. Thomas, what’s your question to the president?

Caller: Just one question. You’re talking about the democracy of South Africa. If you oppose someone inside the organisation, you are alien with him who opposes you.

President Mbeki: No, that is very, very wrong.

Caller: I’m thinking like this, because why now you contest about the position of the president, why can’t you do it with position… (Remainder of the question very unclear)

Presenter: Thomas, thank you very much for calling, let’s give the President a chance to respond.

President Mbeki: No, you see Thomas, what I’ve been saying is, you see if you look at the constitution of the ANC, the constitution of the ANC says that anybody who is a member of the ANC is entitled to run for any position in the ANC. Now, people who run for positions in the ANC are people who get nominated by members of the ANC and I’ve said that it’s important that all of us must respect the opinion of the members of the ANC. So when members of the ANC nominate anybody, I think it’s important that all of us would respect that. And that is all, really. The fact that people get nominated for different positions, as you will see in all of the lists that are flying around, there are many positions that are being contested, not just president. The people who are being nominated are not being nominated because they are enemies, and indeed, none of them should treat one another as enemies. It’s a normal part of a democratic process, even within the ANC. The ANC in order even to demonstrate to the people, that indeed it supports democracy in the country, it must be democratic even in its own internal processes. So let us not treat this democratic process in the ANC as a process among enemies and people are going to hate one another and so on. That is wrong.

Presenter: Direct questions to the President of the ANC, President Thabo Mbeki. President Mbeki, our special guest for tonight, in his capacity only as the President of the ruling African National Congress Party and not as the State President of the Republic of South Africa. My name is A.B. Maqwe, I’m your host with the president. Lets go back again …we’ve got Petrus from Sebokeng.

Caller: Good evening. How are you, Sir?

President Mbeki: OK Petrus, how are you?

Caller: Fine, Sir. Thank you for these years you have been ruling the country. It was nice and we are happy. Until now, we are happy. But now we ask, can you give somebody else, let us see how he wants to work with us, please.

President Mbeki: All right, Petrus. Why don’t we leave this decision to the members of the ANC? It’s a decision of members of the ANC. If you look at all leaders of the lands, how did Nelson Mandela become president of the ANC? He was elected by the membership. If our current [ANC] deputy president is elected, he would be elected by the membership. I think let’s just respect what the membership says.

Presenter: We’ve got Phumla from Tshwane. Phumla, the President is all ears. Go ahead.

Caller: Good evening, Mr President.

President Mbeki: Good evening, Phumla.

Caller: It is an honour to speak to you, sir. I just want to make a comment. You know, people need to look at the past and look at how the economy has been doing. And from my side, I just want to say, please stay in the race, because there are a lot of people who have trust in you and also in your capabilities to run the country, so keep on doing the good work, and thank you.

President Mbeki: Thanks for the call, Phumla.

Presenter: Our special guest for tonight, President Thabo Mbeki, president of the African National Congress. Questions, any question to him tonight.

Caller: What I want to ask the president is, people like me, who are staying in areas which are under the rules of the king or the chiefs, as they are called now. I want to know, what is the situation, because we have the problem with land restitution. And we always have to go through a lot of processes trying to explain to a commissioner. What is his position about this issue.

President Mbeki: Well, you know that there’s legislation and processes that have been put in place to deal with land restitution questions. And that includes the Land Claims Court and all of that. But you also know that there is again legislation that relates to how the traditional leaders relate to communities and how the traditional leaders relate to local government. That is the legal framework within which all of us have got to operate.

Caller: (inaudible)

President Mbeki: No, you see, if there is a land claim, if there’s land that you are entitled to, then, as I say, there are processes that are put in place for you to claim that land. And that’s a matter that goes through some processes to make sure that the issue that you are raising, is addressed in a manner that is correct and that is just. Now I do not know what specific instance you are referring to, so really what I am saying, I mean, you and I can discuss that. You can write to me later, to indicate what the specific nature of the problem is. Then I would be able to address that. The only thing I can say now, is that we’ve got a legislative framework to deal with the issue of land restitution and we should follow that process.

Presenter: Thank you very much. The President is waiting. We’ve got Rantso. Your President is listening.

Caller: Yes, withgreat pleasure for me to be in touch telephonically with our State President. While I am appreciating all the efforts that Mr President has done for this country and I’m very supportive of all the good things that he has done for us as a nation, so I am particularly worried about our marginalisation or our exclusion from disempowerment deals that are taking place in our region with regard to the mining industry. Thank you.

President Mbeki: Well Rantso, you know that we try to address that question. For instance, to make provision in the legislation in the Mining Charter and so on, to address that matter of exclusion that you’re addressing…

Caller: No, the thing is about the chieftainship around our area.

President Mbeki: Oh I see. You see, Rantso, I’m going to be at a disadvantage because you see I don’t know the specifics of how this thing is happening in your area. What I would suggest, if you could then contact me in government, contact the president in government, explain what the problem is, and then I will follow it up.

Caller: Hullo Mr President. How are you? I’m calling in order to speak to you today, Mr President. I would like to wish you all the best, and very good luck.

President Mbeki: Thank you very much.

Caller: And I would like as well to ask the people of South Africa to use respect, especially when they are speaking to the president, because what you have done for the country, you know, it’s only the blind who don’t see the good work that you have done.

Presenter: Thank you so much for the call. Do you want to respond, Mr President?

President Mbeki: Thanks a lot. Thanks indeed for the call.

Presenter: We are on a special broadcast here. We’ve got a caller.

Caller: Yes, how are you?

Presenter: I’m well and you? The president is listening.

Caller: I would like to thank the president for the work he has done. A quick question, whether the issue of morality should be considered when we elect the president of the ANC.

President Mbeki: Well, you know that the ANC has got its own standards with regard to that matter of morality. You might know for instance, that even in the Constitution of the ANC, these questions are raised. So about morality, I think we should just refer to what the ANC constitution says, and also other documents that the ANC has issued on this matter so that indeed, it helps us to elect the right leadership.

Presenter: If you want to speak to the president of the African National Congress, he is here with us on 15 radio stations of the Public Broadcaster, the SABC. Do we have Jabu?

Caller: Yes. Good evening Mr President. It is a pleasure and an honour for me to have a link with you tonight. And I wish you good luck Thank you very much for what you’ve done for this country. We are praying that whatever is going to happen, the comrades will use their super senses to think back and think for the future of this country and their children. But, one thing that is worrying me, Mr President, is that some of the people that are also conducting, ( unclear) they will go back and also preach some negativities and that alone, is creating confusion amongst the people who are not really politically educated and understand the levels of politics you are discussing. Thank you so much.

President Mbeki: Thank you very much Jabu. I would like to say Jabu, about that, it is indeed very important that we should, all of us, respect the truth. The ANC has never, throughout its history – the ANC is almost 96 years old – the ANC has never relied on lies in order to advance its policies and so on, even when things are painful and difficult. The ANC has always said it’s important that as an organisation, we must not tell the people lies, and we must tell the truth. And indeed, I understand your concern, that there might be some among us, who are campaigning on the base of lies, but I think personally, that it’s a mistake for anybody to think that the people are fools, that the people will be misled forever by lies. In the end the truth is going to come out and really, very, very important for all of us as members of the ANC, we must respect the truth.

Presenter: Soli, your are the last caller for tonight, because time is not on our side.

Caller: Good evening, Sir. It is wonderful for me as well to speak to the president. I hold him in very high esteem and regard. He’s got my vote. I’ve just got one little concern here, in terms of crime, Mr President. I wish that, with the crime, we should bring in the death penalty to stop people from murdering each other. I know it’s not your policy, and I’m still concerned about your opponent in this regard. I don’t know how he can become elected in terms of moral …..(Unclear) I wish you well in the vote.

President Mbeki: Thanks a lot. You are quite correct to express this concern about the level of crime. We, on the government side, even on the ANC side, we decided if you look at the anniversary January 8 th statement that we issued as ANC at the beginning of this year, we actually said that we must all join hands as people as a whole, and really join a very strong campaign against crime. And in government, we really looked at the entirety of the criminal justice system, the police, the courts, the prisons, prosecution, everything, to say that we really have got to try and revamp that whole system to make sure that we make an impact on this question. So indeed, I agree with you, it’s a critical matter and indeed, let’s discuss all issues that are relevant to this, but indeed, as you say, the ANC policy which is confirmed by the Constitutional Court was against the death penalty. And I must say, in reality many countries in the world have followed South Africa with regard to this, but indeed, that doesn’t mean you are incorrect. We have to attend to this matter of crime, and make sure that all of us, our communities, join hands with the police and together, let’s fight this crime. And that includes the ANC structures, the ANC branches have got to be in the forefront of this fight.

Presenter: Mr President, on the issue of crime. One of the most important annual campaigns Government and the ANC are pushing forward, ‘16 Days Activism of No violence Against Women and Children’. A special message to our listeners at home?

President Mbeki: Yes. That is one of the particularly ugly manifestations of this kind of crime. But it’s also an ugly manifestation of things that are wrong with our society. In the past I’ve said look, this is an international campaign, 16 Days of Activism, but why don’t we make it 365 Days of Activism? Because this is a problem that is daily with us. And we’ve got a few more days to go, five more days before the campaign ends. But I think that even in the period remaining, let’s really join in this campaign. But what is critically important is that the communities must be involved, because a lot of this violence against women and children, occurs in homes and there’s no policeman or policewoman who is sitting in everybody’s house to ensure that it doesn’t happen. The communities really need to respond to protect the women and the children and we mustn’t turn a blind eye and say this is a private matter. So it is very important and I do hope in the period that remains, we will all of us, join in this campaign to make sure that we address what is really a very, very ugly matter, which includes rape, which includes the beating up of women and all of this, it’s not right. It’s bad. And you can’t have a society which tolerates that kind of behaviour.

Presenter: That is President Thabo Mbeki, in his capacity as the president of the ruling African National Congress and this was a very special live broadcast from our studios in Tshwane here in Pretoria, the capital of the country. We thank you so much, Mr President and thank you again to listeners at home, those who called in, those who listened, it has been a pleasure being with you.

Until next time, thank you

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