The ANC is hoping to convince former president Thabo Mbeki to join its campaign ahead of the national and general elections this year.
This comes as the governing party faces many challenges, including former president Jacob Zuma endorsing and campaigning for the newly formed uMkohonto weSizwe (MK) Party.
According to reports, the ANC has deployed former KwaZulu-Natal provincial secretary, Mdumiseni Ntuli, to convince Mbeki to campaign for the party.
Mbeki has in recent months been a vocal critic of the ANC’s failure to deliver on its conference resolution to renew itself.
The former president suggested he was not interested in campaigning for the party. Last year, Mbeki told a national broadcaster that he had not taken a decision on whether to vote for the ANC or not.
“There are many things that are going wrong which are not being attended to.
“I can’t go to the ordinary people of our country and say, ‘vote for these people who are doing wrong things.’
Speaking at Unisa last year, Mbeki said that he could not campaign for a party that “harboured criminals”.
“When you say I must go campaign next year (and) tell people to vote ANC, how am I going to do that when I know very well the branch of the ANC in this constituency is led by a criminal?”
Mbeki was last week also critical of his successor Zuma at the party’s national executive commitee lekgotla.
Mbeki, speaking in the elections commission, looking at the electoral fortunes of the governing party, described Zuma’s term of office as head of state and party president as counter-revolutionary years.
“It is a counter-revolution that produced failure and disaster for the ANC,” said Mbeki.
He said Zuma’s term was a period in which there was a deliberate attempt to destroy the SA Revenue Services (Sars).
“He was directly involved in capturing and taking over Sars and subsequently Eskom.”
A senior ANC member in KZN said it was envisaged that Mbeki, if he agreed to be part of the campaign, would participate on a macro level.
“It is not his style to be on the ground but he can create ways to express himself to people and to the media.
“We cannot rule out that he will be on the ground but we also have to realise he is a veteran, the KZN member said.
“The party has lost the intelligentsia, academia and black professionals and Mbeki can convince them to return.”
The source said the fact that Mbeki has been scathingly critical of the governing party made him more credible.
“He has spoken about why the party has lost support and has expressed his disappointment at the performance of the party.
“Many voters want to see that type of acknowledgement. If Mbeki campaigns for the ANC it will show that the party’s renewal programme is reasonable and must be given a chance.”
ANC provincial spokesperson Mafika Mndebele said Mbeki campaigning for the party would be a positive move.
“For years the ANC has accepted constructive criticism, especially if it offers solutions to the challenges.
“If Mbeki campaigns for the party, then it will dispel the lies that senior leaders have left the ANC,” Mndebele said.
“If former president Mbeki campaigns for the party, then it will dispel the lies that senior leaders have left the ANC.”
Political analyst Professor Bheki Mngomezulu said Mbeki must indicate what has changed his opinion.
This is in light of the fact that he had recently said he was not confident in the ANC and its leaders.