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Mbeki lashes ANC’s block on parliamentary probes into Phala Phala and De Ruyter’s Eskom cartel claims

Mbeki lashes ANC’s block on parliamentary probes into Phala Phala and De Ruyter’s Eskom cartel claims
Former president Thabo Mbeki.(Photo by Gallo Images / Beeld / Alet Pretorius)

The former president says the party’s use of its parliamentary majority to railroad investigations by the legislature is unconstitutional.

Former president Thabo Mbeki has whacked the ANC for blocking parliamentary inquiries into former Eskom boss Andre de Ruyter’s claims of cartels and corruption hobbling the utility.  

He also compared the Phala Phala scandal facing President Cyril Ramaphosa with the Nkandla calumny, which finally took down the former head of state, Jacob Zuma. 

Mbeki’s 17-page letter from ‘Thabo Mbeki Office’ to ANC deputy president Paul Mashatile has been leaked.

The ANC secretary-general Fikile Mbalula has confirmed the veracity of the letter, while spokesperson for the Thabo Mbeki Foundation, Anga Jamela, said, “We cannot authenticate anything that does not come from us directly.” 

It is an excoriating and principled letter, where a furious Mbeki responds to Mashatile’s reply to parliamentary questions last week in which the newly minted deputy head of state declared his support for simple majoritarianism. (See Marianne Merten’s report here).

“The bland statement that any majority party in the legislatures has an unfettered democratic right to use its numbers to impose on the legislature whatever decision of its choice is very wrong!” 

Mbeki writes that South Africa is a “Constitutional Democracy” which imposes duties on political parties; South Africa is not run by a system of “Parliamentary sovereignty which the counter-revolution repeatedly argues for.” (Mbeki always often refers to liberal opposition as a counter-revolution).  

For page after page, Mbeki quotes Ramaphosa’s key August 2020 anti-corruption speech back to the ANC.  The most quoted line is, “The ANC may not stand alone in the dock, but it does stand as accused number one.” He says that in nine months since former spy boss Arthur Fraser laid the Phala Phala charges at the Rosebank police station, “none of the questions has been answered. The recent report by SARS Commissioner Edward Kieswetter that no record of the declaration to Customs has been found of the $580,0000 deepens the puzzle about what exactly happened at Phala Phala farm.”

Mbeki said that by squashing a multi-party committee parliamentary investigation into the issue, the ANC eroded public trust in it even further. He used voting figures showing that the ANC’s margin of victory had declined precipitously from 2004 to the last local government election in 2021. 

“Without doubt, the wrong positions we took about the Nkandla matter impacted the standing of the ANC with many among the masses of our people…

“It is equally without doubt that any wrong position we take with regard to the Phala Phala matter will also in equal measure or more, impact negatively on the standing of the ANC…”.  

“The way we (the ANC) voted on 13 December 2022 to block the process of the formation of an MPC [multi-party committee] communicated the unequivocal statement to the masses of the people that we do not want Parliament to seek and gain a deeper and comprehensive understanding of the Phala Phala matter.”

Read more in Daily Maverick: Ramaphosa’s farmgate scandal – a timeline of what we know (and don’t know) so far 

Months later, in March 2023, the party again blocked calls for forming multi-party ad-hoc committees to investigate Phala Phala and corruption at Eskom moved by the DA, says Mbeki’s letter. 

The letter reads: “…the public would expect that our Government would act immediately to investigate serious allegations of criminality directed at weakening the SOEs (state-owned enterprises), such as those made by the outgoing Eskom CEO André de Ruyter when he said that Eskom was afflicted by severe instances of corruption, sabotage and criminal cartels…

“It will have come across to this public as very strange and disturbing that when a proposal was made that Parliament should undertake such a focused investigation into the alleged criminality at Eskom, we [the ANC] promptly voted against an eminently correct proposal [from the DA].”  

Mbeki wrote to Mashatile as deputy president of the ANC because Ramaphosa has repeatedly recused himself from ANC discussions on Phala Phala.

In July last year, Mbeki was scathing of the ANC for failing on poverty alleviation and reducing inequality, saying that the party risked its own Arab spring if it did not address these burning issues. The ANC’s leadership had failed to renew the party and provide basic services to citizens, he said.

Read more in Daily Maverick: Thabo Mbeki slams ANC for failing on unemployment, poverty and inequality

In October last year, he warned the ANC that it had to prepare for a fallout over the Phala Phala probe into Ramaphosa. DM


Comments - Please in order to comment.

  • elsadele says:

    The ANC has lost its moral compass, it simply does not care about South Africa!

  • Yunus Scheepers says:

    Why would the ANC pay any attention to a man they “recalled” when they consistently ignore the constitution and behave as if they’re above the law. That’s not a government, that’s a mafia

  • Tim Price says:

    Hot air from a has been or will it have an effect? Not holding my breath.

  • Counter revolution? Counter revolutionary forces? What nonsense is this? The masses of our people are simply sick and tired of the endless corruption perpetrated by this criminal organization

  • virginia crawford says:

    That’s rich coming from someone who protected Tony Yengeni and blocked investigation into the arms deal. An ANC MP, Mr Feinstein, was hounded into exile by Mbeki and cronies for telling the truth. You, Mr Mbeki are responsible for setting a deadly precedent while president, and we are reaping the woe now.

    • Francois Smith says:

      Do not forget that Thaboes bought jets and frigates and not power stations. That set up the whole Eskom slide into oblivion.

    • Eyes Wide Shut says:

      And don’t forget the thousands of people he killed with his policies and opinions on HIV treatment. He isn’t as much of and angel and intellectual as many like to attribute to him.

  • ELSA GODDEN says:

    What quaint, last century language! “Counter revolutionaries”; “The masses of our people”‘ “Comrade”.
    And then still the obsolete obsession with The National Democratic Revolution (NDR), which is a dinosaur of old fashioned Marxist/communist drivel which has no place in a modern democracy. The ANC has to decide whether it wants to be a progressive, modern party for ALL South Africans, of whether it wants to remain stuck in their romanticised attachment to the “struggle” and being a “freedom movement”. These old madalas must make room for a modern, capable younger generation and go sit in the sun eulogising about the good old days of “The Movement”.
    Ready to govern? My foot. They were not and they are not!

    • Grimalkin Joyce says:

      Absolutely agree! ‘Comrade’ – old hat, Thabo. When I hear that, I immediately consign the speaker to the dustbin. We need to ditch so much of this nonsense. I include ‘racist’ in this list – such an easy word to use to cover up incompetence (and insecurity). We need to work TOGETHER to build a country to be proud of, but our politicians have worked hard to polarise the races, so we’re stuck with it, I suppose, until we get a decent leader.

  • Louis Potgieter says:

    I find Mbeki quite reasonable in nearly the entire piece. Tragically, reason is doomed to fail as self-interest is now entrenched in the party. The piece I battle with is on page 15 where he quotes AdR, and concludes: “Thus did de Ruyter expose himself as the classical extreme right-wing anti-communist fanatic of the Apartheid years, etc. Such a conclusion can not nearly be supported by the evidence he himself quoted. Just because of criticism. These comrades cannot see themselves the way they are. I think East-block training must have included much brainwashing too.

    Mabuza, the ex-deputy President has been linked in the press to major criminality of a land-claims nature, and now also to Eskom malfeasance. In the private sector the CEO (Ramaphosa) would have been on his managers’ backs to find the facts and follow up presto! Not only does CR no such thing, he allows his managers to block any inquiries. If you were still wondering about CR, there you have it. (Same with Phala-Phala, but more understandable.) Why do I have the sneaking suspicion that the money actually relates to the ANC?

  • Nwabisa Muthige says:

    Good for Mbeki to call out his comrades, hope they listen!

    • Marko V says:

      Perhaps it’s time to leave the old Marxist “comrades” vernacular behind now, don’t you think? We pretend to be a democracy but we have a mafia state.

  • Dennis Bailey says:

    Proverbial pot calling kettle and a waste of space. A moral compass can only be lost if there ever was one. 30 years of misrule is enough for any party. RIP, ANC, RIP!

  • Manie Krause says:

    Read the comments by Mbeki re De Ridder. Scared me almost more than the corruption part of the ANC/ruling government.

  • Libby De Villiers says:

    Sovereignty says it all. The cadres in parliament are so misguided and entitled that they think they are royalty of some sorts.
    There is not one person in this government who understands the basic principles of democracy.
    They are in parliament for the cars, the flashing lights, the free food and drinks, the red carpet…Like royal families all over the world they want to do nothing, have a lot of money and just love the pomp and ceremony.
    It irks to hear them call us ordinary citizens and treat us like slaves. Who and what do they think they are and why do they get away with it? This country is a feudal system where poor people work and struggle, have no rights and feed the fat cats at the top.
    They must be shown again that they are government employees, paid by the taxpayers of this country and get fired if they don’t and can’t do the job. Like the rest of us they should go to jail for theft and like us they must pay with hard earned money for what they want.

    And the arms deal mr Mbeki? And if you are still a member of the party, sir, you too have egg on your face and blood on your hands. Just din’t come with this holier than thou thing now. You were just as useless in your day.

  • Confucious Says says:

    Isn’t this the same garlic munching potato-head that denied HIV causes AIDS??? Can you imagine that he has the moral high-ground over the anc. In the land of the blind….

  • Stuart Hulley-Miller says:

    Everyone ignores and forgets who the “Elephant In The Room” is and where he comes from and what he is …. Arthur Frazer is the beginning and the end of it all.

  • Wytze Voerman says:

    Good example of mismanagement of comments: the vast majority of you lot are so entrenched in negativity that you simply miss the importance of these uttering at the address of the Assembly, in particular the ANC. Not even your favourite newspaper managed to report on the DA attempts in parliament which gave rise to Mbeki’s ire, calling it a “quiet week”. Read it again and realise the impact this must have on each and every ANC member, whether you like the author or not.

  • Rowan G says:

    Mbeki should announce his official resignation from the ANC. It’s clear he doesn’t agree with the way it manages itself any more and I doubt they take his input seriously.

  • Lisbeth Scalabrini says:

    Whatever one might think of Thabo Mbeki as a person and ex-President, there are many truths and valid questions in his letter.

  • Petrus Kleinhans says:

    This letter, though valid on the points that parliament should play its constitutional role and not be the hostage of one party for the sake of self interest, is highly ironic. Zuma and the Gupta’s are called counter revolutionaries. The current Escom cartels that investigators say lead to senior ANC players are called servants of the counter revolution. Mega irony.

  • Andrew Blaine says:

    If Thabo Mbeki was so highly Principled, why did he make no comment regarding the behaviour of his direct successor? Was he scared of getting the real chop?

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