Former President Thabo Mbeki, who seldom holds back in his criticism of his party, the African National Congress, again made known his disappointment in the current state of affairs within the party and the country.
In delivering the eulogy at a memorial service for his friend and former Foreign Affairs Minister Aziz Pahad hosted by the ANC on Thursday evening, Mbeki again took the opportunity to implore the party to restore its former glory.
Mbeki said that the party’s resolution to renew itself was taken at its 2017 elective conference and again at its 2022 conference, “but nothing has been done”.
While attending The Interfaith Forum of South Africa (TIFSA) conference earlier in the week, Mbeki said he was left “very sad” to hear what religious and community leaders said about the state of governance in South Africa.
“They said the country was in crisis. That everywhere you go, it’s crisis. They spoke about a woman in the Eastern Cape who killed her three children and herself because they had no food.
“They were not inventing stories about the level of poverty, the high crime rate, the degree of suicide among youngsters, the absence of wellness in our society. This is a signal of something going very wrong,” he said.
Mbeki relayed a common thread among people in society who believed the ANC betrayed them.
“Listening to other people in our society saying the ANC has betrayed them. It made me very sad. It is unfortunate that Aziz left us when he did, because what these people are saying is correct.
“The challenge we face, for those of us still alive, is how do we respond to that reality? I say it is unfortunate that Aziz left us when he did because he was ready to confront that truth and do something about it as the professional revolutionary he was.
“He did not betray anyone,” Mbeki said.
The ANC held a memorial at the Arts Centre Theatre at the University of Johannesburg on Thursday evening. The memorial was attended by Pahad’s wife, Professor Angina Parekh, who described him as the love of her life.
His niece, and daughter of his late brother Essop Pahad, Amina, shared some funny anecdotes of her uncle remembering him as “playful with a naughty streak”.
The memorial was also attended by Pahad’s fellow comrades in the Struggle, Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma, Lindiwe Sisulu, Ronnie Kasrils and Wally Serote while video tributes were sent by Professor William Esterhuyse and Ambassador Mohamed Dangor.