In a question and answer session organized by the Thabo Mbeki Foundation, the former South African president had a chat with the Thabo Mbeki Leadership Institute students.
From the #FeesMustFall movement and the cry for free higher education the students complained about the instability and controversies of ANC leadership.
To start with, Mbeki shared his thoughts on the importance of an improved and accessible basic education; however he understood the rage of the students.
“It is a collective good for the country, so it’s not something I can fight about. Where it becomes problematic is who pays.”
During the interactive session, the former president Thabo Mbeki also did not spare his reservations for leaders who are stealing and violating the rue of law, the nation’s constitution.
He finds it rather awkward and sad that the same people who worked to put the constitution together would now go against it just for selfish interests.
“The constitution is the product of the struggle; we own that constitution. I would not expect that the same owners of the constitution would want to violate it.”
Mbeki was making reference to the routine court cases of ANC leaders and the Constitutional court.
Using South Africa as a case study, he says that Africa as a whole is in dire need of progressive leadership.
“What the continent needs is a progressive leadership to effect the change we need. And a progressive leader is a leader who says ‘my task is to serve the people, to ensure that the quality of life of the people changes for the better.”
“And therefore that progressive leader would not be a thief. Because you can’t say because I am a progressive leader and therefore serve the interests of the people … but in that course I will also put something in [the] pocket.”
“The problem, therefore, on the continent is not the general quality of leadership, but the challenge of progressive leadership.”
Mbeki admitted to the political ills of self-enrichment in the ANC. He also obtained from a reliable source that he was ousted from the office of the president because “he would not allow” politicians to “put something in our pockets”.
He insists that party loyalty must not conflict with obedience to the constitution.
It is worthy of note that Mbeki is currently playing the role of peacemaker in Sudan.