Johannesburg - Former president Thabo Mbeki has urged the people of Africa to celebrate the ANC’s centenary by rising against political and other leaders who abuse power for self-enrichment at the expense of the masses.
Delivering a lecture at the University of Dar-es-Salaam in Tanzania on Thursday night, under the theme “The centenary of the ANC: prospects for the realisation of the pan-africanist project”, Mbeki said African leaders who used their countries as their “personal fiefdoms” for wealth accumulation undermined African unity and renaissance.
This included political, civil society, business and academic leaders, Mbeki said.
In what was seen as scathing criticism of President Jacob Zuma, Mbeki had previously said that he was concerned about a “dangerous and unacceptable situation of directionless and unguided national drift”.
Mbeki told his audience that Tanzanians and South Africans had to devise means to “celebrate the centenary of the ANC outside the borders of SA as well”.
This was because the ANC was an African regional liberation and anti-colonial movement, rather than a narrow South African national movement, he said.
Urging ordinary Africans to act “consciously” as their own liberators, Mbeki emphasised that the ANC’s founding fathers had asserted a century ago that the continent could solve its problems only within the context of a pan-Africanist perspective.
He also called on ordinary people to take a stand against “serious weaknesses” in the continent’s democratic practices. He said this included the “corruption of our electoral processes”.
“This is combined in the abuse of power resulting in some of our countries being treated as personal fiefdoms that are used as a base for self-enrichment against the interests of the people,” Mbeki said.
Mbeki warned the people of Africa against the practice of divide and rule based on “tribe and race”.
Lamenting the leadership skills of current crop of African leaders, Mbeki said the forced removal of former Ivory Coast president Laurent Gbagbo, and the invasion of Lybia by Western forces “conveyed deeply worrying messages about the future of our continent”.
“Libya remains in the grip of an internal violent conflict and, as we had predicted, the overthrow of the [Muammar] Gaddafi regime by NATO-led forces has created a very dangerous situation… I mention these two events because the outcomes did not emanate from strategic decisions we took as Africans, but from decisions taken by others outside our Continent”.
Mbeki’s statement could be seen as a veiled attack on Zuma, whose country voted for a UN resolution authorising intervention in Lybia before crying foul that the West had misused the resolution to effect regime change.