Mbeki is still popular
By Hassan Isilow
He might be out of the limelight, but former South African President Thabo Mbeki is still popular among ANC supporters. In fact, some say he could easily win any elective position within the party, if he chose to contest. On Sunday crowds celebrating the ANC’S centenary in Mangaung responded with a huge cheer when Mbeki’s name was read out by both Baleka Mbete and President Jacob Zuma.
“Mbeki governed this country very well during his tenure. We still love him and would elect him if he chose to contest,” one ANC delegate who wished to remain anonymous told me during the celebrations. Mbeki received another cheer from the crowd when he was shown on the big screens that were broadcasting the proceedings of the event to more than 100,000 ANC supporters and 6,000 VIPs, including 46 heads of state.
Mbeki was also shown on the TV screens in the stadium lifting a torch carrying the centenary flame, which was lit by President Zuma at midnight on Saturday to mark the centenary. Baleka Mbete said the centenary flame would be taken to all regions in the country. “The flame will be in Bloemfontein for this month and will be taken to every district in the province,” she said, adding that in February the flame will be moved to the Western Cape.
However, elsewhere most South Africans whom I spoke to during the Celebration said ANC had done little to improve the lives of the poor. “Officials in the ANC and those owning BEE businesses are the ones enjoying. The ANC has neglected us the poor,” one ANC supporter told me. Another said while she remained a committed member of the ANC, there was much more work for the party to do.
Meanwhile, President Jacob Zuma, took the opportunity to commemorate African states who contributed by supporting the ANC’s struggle against apartheid. He commended Mozambique’s role, saying the country’s former president, Samora Machel, lost his life because of his endeavour to see ANC succeed in attaining freedom. He also praised the late Tanzania President Julius Nyerere and his Chama Cha Mapinduzi political party for hosting and training ANC fighters. The other African countries that helped the ANC included Zimbabwe, Zambia Botswana, Uganda, and Namibia. Others are Ethiopia and Algeria.