Thuma Mina: Mbeki called in to manage possible Magashule-induced ANC fallout

Former president Thabo Mbeki’s surprise appearance at the ANC’s national executive committee meeting on Sunday, his first in a decade, has set the rumour mill alight with some reports suggesting he was brought in to manage a potential ANC collapse.

The Star is reporting that sources inside the meeting say Mbeki was roped in to avoid the party ‘disintegrating into an early conference’ if ANC secretary-general Ace Magashule was forced to step down amid corruption charges against him.

It appears the Mbeki card has been the ‘Ace’ in President Cyril Ramaphosa’s pocket.

One of the first things Ramaphosa handled after being elected president of the ANC at Nasrec in 2017 was to visit Mbeki’s home to ask for his support, the publication said.

Mbeki’s successor, Jacob Zuma, also participated in the ANC National Executive Committee meeting, with Magashule saying “the NEC was wiser because of the attendance of Mbeki and Zuma.”

Mbeki’s appearance ‘significant’

The Star reported that had been been “reliably informed” that the Magashule faction was preparing itself to call for an early conference if he was axed.

Mbeki, a seasoned negotiator, was reportedly brought in to manage a potential fallout, although his office and the Thabo Mbeki Foundation did not respond to calls to confirm or deny this.

Political analyst Mpumelelo Mkhabela said of Mbaki’s participation at the ANC NEC: “We had excellent credit ratings during his time… He had a lot to say about the state of the economy during that NEC meeting.”

“His attendance is significant.”

The threat of an early conference, which would potentially dislodge the current ANC top six, was further amplified by Mkhonto Wesizwe Military Veterans Association (MKMVA) president Kebby Maphatsoe, who threatened the country with war if Magashule was removed or if Zuma was arrested.

“South Africa will be ungovernable. It will be open war. Let them fire the SG or arrest Zuma.”

Magashule declined to comment on whether Mbeki was brought in to manage the fallout that would follow if he were removed.

“I won’t be removed. That’s it. The ANC is working.”

No thank you…

Another source at ANC headquarters told The Star that Ramaphosa first offered Mbeki the position of leader of an envoy to the US to boost economic growth but declined.

Mbeki suggested, however, that Phumzile Mlambo Ngcuka, former deputy president and wife of former Scorpions chief Bulelani Ngcuka, be appointed.

In 2008, the then ANC NEC resolved to remove Mbeki as president after a defeat by Zuma at the party’s elective conference in Polokwane the previous year. Later that year, a furious Mbeki lashed out at the ANC after it announced that he would campaign on behalf of the same party which had just fired him.

In a letter to Zuma, Mbeki complained that he had not been consulted by party bosses about whether he would be available to assist in the election campaign.

Mbeki is understood to have lamented the irony that the very ANC that recalled him from office because it had no confidence in him, saw fit to publicly announce that he would be expected to campaign for it.

It appears Mbeki will now be an active factor in Ramaphosa’s decisions, under a code phrase used in Ramaphosa’s inner circle known as “Rescinding the Zuma phenomenon,” The Star reported further.

The last ANC NEC meeting for the year is scheduled to wrap up on Tuesday.

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Presh JM Reporter

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