Former president Thabo Mbeki File picture: Oupa Mokoena/ANA Pictures

Durban – ANC secretary-general Gwede Mantashe says the party will not “throw mud” at former President Thabo Mbeki after his comments that MPs had to put people first when voting in the motion of no confidence against President Jacob Zuma.

On Tuesday, Mbeki called on ANC MPs to vote in the interests of the people and not toe the party line in next week's debate.

Asked to comment on Mbeki's call, Mantashe said: “You are asking us to throw mud at Thabo Mbeki’s house, we are not going to do that.”

ANC spokesperson Khusela Sangoni said they had chosen not to comment. “We would not want to engage president Mbeki on that matter.”

But the ANC Youth League in KwaZulu-Natal, Zuma’s heartland, on Tuesday accused the former president of being a “hypocrite” for his comments on the motion of no confidence.

League provincial secretary Thanduxolo Sabelo said Mbeki was “a bitter old man” bent on influencing ANC MPs to be disloyal to the party.

Sabelo is a Zuma loyalist and one of the lead campaigners for former AU chairwoman Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma to replace Zuma.

“We believe he is very bitter and very angry since (Mbeki) was defeated in Polokwane in 2007 and then removed from office as the president of the country.

Read: Mbeki warns ANC MPs

“He is a bitter old man,” Sabelo said.

In Tuesday’s article, Mbeki said MPs should act as the voice of the people “not the voice of the political parties to which they belong”.

The ANCYL in KZN was blamed for the chaos that erupted at the memorial service for ANC stalwart Ahmed Kathrada in Durban on Sunday.

Sabelo’s fellow members booed and heckled ANC treasurer Zweli Mkhize and former finance minister Pravin Gordhan.

ANC chief whip Jackson Mthembu could not be reached for comment, but he told eNCA that they would not deviate from the mandate to oppose the motion.

The Thabo Mbeki Foundation said Sabelo’s comments were a diversion on the purpose of the former president's article.

“It seeks to divert us from the issues. The essence of the article is about the obligation of parliamentarians,” the foundation's communications manager Thami Ntenteni said.

“It specifically mentions that not only ANC parliamentarians but all three (parties) in service of the people of South Africa.”

Ntenteni also said Mbeki had even quoted from a judgment of Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng regarding security upgrades at Nkandla, where “he explicitly states MPs are in the service of the people of South Africa”.

The Star