Former President of South Africa, Thabo Mbeki is one man who has vowed to always give a piece of his mind in the face of many challenges rocking the country.
Mbeki’s postulations and appraisal of the current administration have never be ill-timed, as more often than not, he has often hit the nail on the head ‘without fear or favour’.
This time, Mbeki has bewailed the prestigious exit of South Africa from the league of honourable countries. Speaking in Johannesburg on Friday night at the launch of ‘The Thabo Mbeki I Know’, a book written by various contributors about him, he said South Africa has lost the respect of countries, both in Africa and globally.
He expressed disappointment that South Africa has recently brought itself so low, to the dismay of Africa and the rest of the world who invested in the success of the country.
“As I wander around the continent, this is a refrain that we meet right across the continent: ‘what has gone wrong with SA?’. It is everywhere. Everywhere [is] loss of respect for the South Africans. Who wants to listen to the South Africans?. And that is reality, that is the practicality, that is the situation.”
Former President Thabo Mbeki also recounted the selfless commitment and struggle of former Botswana president, Ketumile Masire and Anders Möllander towards the emancipation of South Africa.
In addition, he asserted that former Tanzanian president Julius Nyerere had the same sense of commitment, and once told him: “I’m your messenger, send me anywhere you want.”
Former Swedish ambassador to South Africa, Anders Möllander, who was also present at the remarkable occasion said during a panel discussion held earlier that he has been asked numerous questions about the ANC’s 2007 Polokwane conference, when Mbeki was replaced by Zuma.
Möllander added that people still want to know if Mbeki’s recall was the end of South Africa and whether the country would go down the drain.
But the former Swedish ambassador said he often reply “I said I don’t believe so, the Constitution was strong.”
Speaking also, former minister, Alec Erwin, who handed in his resignation letter in 2008 after Mbeki was recalled, opined that SA is presently stuck in the limbo because the country is yet to be governed by a political party that could take the country forward in the cause of humanity.
Erwin also acknowledged economic transformation would not happen overnight but that the country must find “nobility of the human spirit” again, “else the period will be quite dark for a while”.
Lending his voice, Thabo Mbeki Foundation CEO Max Boqwana, related that the book ‘Thabo Mbeki I Know’ was not published to brighten Mbeki’s image but rather linking the work of the country’s forebears with the present.
A former trustee of the Thabo Mbeki Foundation board and an ex-ambassador Lindiwe Mabuza opined that the book is well-timed and relevant in putting “the real Thabo Mbeki before the people”.
The event pooled thought leaders from different spheres of life, including former president of Botswana Sir Ketumile Masire, who also shared their insights at the launch of the book, ‘The Thabo Mbeki I Know’.