Mbeki deserves closer study


(This article was first published in the Daily News, Durban on October 9, 2008)

By Mukoni Ratshitanga

In the months and years ahead, much will be written about the removal of former president Thabo Mbeki from office just months before the end of his second and last term.

This process, of which Carl Niehaus’ “Breath of fresh air at last” (Daily News, October 6) in part, is, in fact, already under way.

His activist credentials will surely lend credence to his views in many quarters. For this reason, what he and other activists say must be appreciated, much as it must be examined. Consider Niehaus’s claim that Mbeki did not consult on cabinet appointments. This is simply not true, for he consulted with officials of the ANC. Niehaus was not and is not an official of the ANC.

The current president, Kgalema Motlanthe, has himself made it clear that in 1999 and 2004, he was not only consulted on cabinet appointments, but was, in fact, present when each of the ministers and deputy ministers was briefed about their new responsibilities.

Imperial

Hardly the stuff of an “imperial decree” as Niehaus describes cabinet appointments under Mbeki. So who to believe, Niehaus or Motlanthe?

To be convincing about regurgitation of the often-stated claim that Mbeki did not work within a collective, Niehaus will have to examine the substance of Mbeki’s presidency in relation to the substance of ANC policies, cabinet decision-making processes, as well as the provisions of the Constitution of the Republic.

Non-partisan and non-opportunistic analysts would at least do some research and state what is fact, rather than conjecture.

Indeed, a problem does arise when individuals emerge from the woodwork to claim a stake in the opportunities that may arise in future, merely on the basis of tirades against those they perceive to have fallen out of favour. This does not help anyone understand the complexities of governance.

ANC members and activists cannot afford such omissions. It may come to pass that certain prevailing distorted notions of Mbeki’s presidency may, in the long run, render decision-making difficult in a country and world in which decisiveness is sometimes required. This is to say nothing of the confidential nature of many government decisions.

Consider, also, Niehaus’s assertion that “Even in (Mbeki’s) last hour, the presidency made a highly irresponsible announcement on the resignations of cabinet ministers, including that of Minister of Finance, Trevor Manuel.”

He continues: “This was cynically aimed at causing financial instability, demonstrating the importance of Mbeki and cronies.”

Truth

Just how does he knows that his version is the truth? Or that there were no considerations other than the treacherous and egoistical one he asserts informed the issuing of the statement?

Posing these and other questions reveals the prejudiced nature of Niehaus’s contribution. Prejudiced because, rather than marshal facts to support his claims, Niehaus’s position (to which he is entitled) on Mbeki’s removal clouds his judgment. In the end, his becomes a mere anti-Mbeki tirade, which some advance for different reasons, real and imagined, objective and subjective, and if one may allow oneself a little Shakespearian speak: fair and foul.

And what are we to make of the acceptability of President Motlanthe’s cabinet on grounds of inclusion of two individuals that Niehaus happens to like? But this for another day.

Honesty is sacrosanct if we are to appraise social reality objectively, make a meaningful contribution to the exchange of ideas and, above all, learn.

Mukoni Ratshitanga is former president Thabo Mbeki’s spokesman and writes in his personal capacity.

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10 thoughts on “Mbeki deserves closer study

  1. “Indeed, a problem does arise when individuals emerge from the woodwork to claim a stake in the opportunities that may arise in future, merely on the basis of tirades against those they perceive to have fallen out of favour. This does not help anyone understand the complexities of governance.” This statement is very true Cde. . .well articulated!

    1. Great input. I agree fully. We must however accept that those who claim today to be taking us into their confidence on the “horrors” of the Mbeki’s Presidency are motivated by nothing else, but their desire to arrive on time for the second last dinner. Many are simply on the excursion to reschedule their time to eat again after eating badly the first time around. And without been personal, Niehaus is known more for his not so astute judgement on matters of national and personal importance. How for instance, does he perpetuate a big lie that Mbeki did not consult on Cabinet appointments when a simple google search would have enhanced his appreciation of the truth. Instead, he designed a lie in such a way that it pleases those he wants to please such that he is seen in so quarters, as a semi-god of political righteousness and relevance thus increasing the value of his currency. He sought to create a debilitating impression that, Mbeki in his mad power-hungry moments to disarms his movement, and dislocate the government he led, appointed to Cabinet positions, people that the ANC did not know. This is schizophrenic considering that the majority of those appointees were senior members of ANC some of whom sat at NEC and other structures of the movement and would simply not have agreed, at the very least, to represent their party in government without their ruling party knowing of their deployment at strategic centres of governance. In essence, Niehaus implies that Mbeki’s Cabinet was a bunch of thugs and ill-discipline members of the ANC, who sought to steal, disempower and undermine their party and by extension the same elected government and country they claim to represented. That is not only sheer misfiring of thoughts, but an irrational analysis of political realities and is incompartable with the Mbeki Cabinet that many of us came to know.

  2. Wondering if he may still believe in his assertion today after himself was booted out of political history through looting and mispresentaion. He’s a disgraced politician, liar and a thief to say the least today…

  3. He is an Ak47 that was used to shoot and discarded after used. His stament lacks substance,objectivity and truth! It is actually a worring factor that most current leaders consentrate on people than the actual tasks done. Pres Mbeki was decisive,intellect and always had the best interest of all at heart! cari is out in the cold now!

  4. as they say “time will tell”. to date time has told a number of things. today time has revealed liars and truth tellers, today time has told us the objective ones and subjective ones. today time has told the real and imagined.

    with the above said, lets not waist more energy in those that look to perpetuate the notion of good is when its done by me and someone else can only be a failure.driven by truimphalists tendencies they are guaranteed not to last. and today we have seen and will continue those who stage a coup de tat in 2008 fumbling and digging our hard earned credility to hole way bigger than our difficult gold mines.

  5. Niehaus must also share his thoughts with us on Zuma if he wants people to take him serious.i will b waiting with bated breath.i’m sure from Zuma a thesis of threading rot will emerge.he is entitled to his opinion.and that doesn’t mean his findings are the end all and be all of human existence. We are still breathing after Mbeki’s removal.what has becum evident is that his wisdom can not be matched!

  6. Niehaus must also share his thoughts with us on Zuma if he wants people to take him serious.i will be waiting with bated breath.i’m sure from Zuma a thesis of threading rot will emerge.he is entitled to his opinion and that doesn’t mean his findings are the end all and be all of human existence. We are still breathing after Mbeki’s removal.what has becum evident is that his wisdom can not be matched nor rivalled!

  7. The anti-Mbeki brigade is crumbling at such a dramatic rate already. that is what happens to coalitions of convenience. theirs was nothing more than their hatred of Mbeki. but the source of their hatred was not the same. others hated him because they wanted to further their corrupt activities (NIehaus, Zuma etc), others because they wanted the perks that come with being in cabinet (Nzimande etc), and others wanted power at all costs (Zuma, Phosa, Sexwale, Nzimande etc).

    what is a strange phenomenon though is that we allowed this to happen as South Africans, and because of our strong feeling of batting for the victim, which Zuma and cronies knew very well; we shunned Mbeki’s warnings aside. The likes of Niehaus as individuals are very insignificant. what is to me is the machinery that was/is used to further propagate these untruths. Niehaus or no NIehaus, that machinery is still there even today.

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