Since stepping down as
South African president in September -- after losing a power struggle within
the ruling party --Thabo Mbeki has remained relatively quiet. Until now.
a letter published Friday, Mr. Mbeki revealed some of his feelings about rival
and ruling (ANC) party leader Jacob Zuma, the African National Congress, and
the formation of a new breakaway political party. VOA reporter Delia Robertson
is following the story. From Johannesburg, she spoke to English to Africa
Service reporter Joe De Capua about the Mbeki letter.
a letter that he wrote after the ANC made certain statements that he would be
campaigning. They would be expecting him to campaign for the ANC in the 2009
election. And so, one of his main points is that they made these statements
without consulting him. And after Mr. Zuma sent a delegation – didn't go
himself but sent a delegation – to tell him that the party had lost confidence
in him. Also, he said he has not in any way been consulted or given his
approval for the national convention that's been convened by former leading ANC
political lights. And that he objects to being made a cult personality around
that," she says.
of those forming the breakaway party are Mbeki supporters, upset with his
resignation and the current leadership of the ANC. Mbeki, himself, however, had
been quiet about his forced resignation and the latest political developments.
think that we wouldn't have heard from him with respect to this if he hadn't
felt that despite being a good (party) soldier that he was continuing to be
abused in a certain sense by the ANC and also if the ANC itself had not chosen
to make public certain parts of this letter that seemed to benefit them," she
Jacob Zuma, Robertson says, "Although he (Mbeki) in the letter says that he and
Mr. Zuma are good friends and have the same views on a lot of things, including
what he calls a cult of personality, he says that people in the ANC have never
built cults of personality around anybody with the one exception being Nelson
Mandela and that there was a particular reason for that – the political
situation in South Africa at the time. And it wasn't of Mr. Mandela's making.
But he then goes on to say that he finds it objectionable that people in the
ANC are making statements that they would be willing to 'kill to see Zuma
become president.' He says these are gatherings or support around the
personality of Jacob Zuma."
Mbeki is not expected to campaign
either for the ANC or the breakaway party being formed. However, could Mbeki
show up at the new party's convention? Robertson says, "It's been billed as a
convention about issues of democracy and relating to whether or not a party should
be formed. But he also went on to say that he's speedily making arrangements
about his own future. Clearly, he made it very plain…that he has no intention
of being involved in politics within South Africa."