Former president Thabo Mbeki is concerned about the seeming “directionless” trajectory the country is taking and how South Africa is being perceived in the rest of the continent and the world.
That’s according Thabo Mbeki Foundation chief executive officer‚ Advocate Max Boqwana‚ speaking at the Dispatch Dialogues on Wednesday night.
He said that when Mbeki had launched his memoirs recently‚ Botswana’s former president Quett Masire‚ had “raised concerns about the standing of this country in the continent and the world… That we are possibly not playing the role that many countries in this continent expected us to play“.
Boqwana said Mbeki found himself being‚ “asked questions that are very difficult to answer as we travel around the continent… In many instances when we stand up on public platforms‚ people are not taking us seriously“.
He said even though Mbeki’s official position is that he “seeks not to govern from the grave‚” the former president has‚ on more than one occasion‚ raised his concerns about the decline of the ANC.
“He is quite convinced that the people of South Africa have made their choices on the sort of people they want to be led by‚” Boqwana said.
He recounted a a visit to a church late last year‚ when a delegation from the foundation led by Mbeki was confronted by members of the church about the former president’s refusal to involve himself in local politics.
“People in that church didn’t even allow us to sit down. They said‚ ‘President Mbeki‚ we’ve got a problem with this attitude of yours that you can’t govern from the grave because you can see the trouble we are in as a country’.”
Boqwana then quoted the bishop’s prayer before their visit ended: “God‚ you have asked us to continue to preach hope to these people‚ and we had hope for a free South Africa. In the end‚ you provided us with leaders like (Nelson) Mandela and Mbeki‚ and this leadership provided that hope. Now I’m asking you God‚ why have You allowed us to be led by blind people and thieves?”
As they were digesting the prayer‚ said Boqwana‚ Mbeki raised his concerns about several issues‚ including the deepening racism in the country.
“He raised concerns about the deepening levels of inequality. He raised concerns about the level of despondency‚ especially amongst young people. He raised concerns about the sense of helplessness that we were witnessing in the village where we were.
“He particularly raised concerns about the seeming lack of direction that our nation is taking. He raised concerns‚ and he wrote about this when he was writing the letters‚ about the attack on the institutions of democracy.”
During a question-and-answer session at the dialogue‚ former ambassador to the US and contributor to the book The Thabo Mbeki I Know‚ Welile Nhlapho‚ said that during the ANC’s Polokwane conference‚ he had found himself fielding questions about the “character” who had taken over the party.
The questions came from invited guests from countries that had supported the ANC during the struggle‚ said Nhlapho.
— TMG Digital/Daily Dispatch