Mbeki helped shape ANC’s birthday statement

Johannesburg – Former president Thabo Mbeki contributed to the shaping of the ANC’s 109th anniversary statement when the party’s top brass met this week.

On Friday, President Cyril Ramaphosa delivered the governing party’s January 8 statement, setting out the priorities of the organisation for the year. The meeting came amid a strong push for ANC secretary- general Ace Magashule to step aside after he was charged with 21 counts of fraud, corruption and money-laundering.

But members of the party’s national executive committee (NEC) who attended the special virtual gathering on Wednesday told Sunday World that the meeting was confined to developing content for the January 8 statement.

They described the meeting as cordial and peaceful. An NEC member said Mbeki emphasised the historical importance of the January 8 statement.

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The leader said the former statesman noted that the statement had to address the immediate challenges faced by citizens in that particular year.

“Basically, he was emphasising the historical significance of the January 8 statement, that it is a call to action; that the ANC should use it to outline how it would resolve the immediate issues facing people,” the NEC member said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

“Zizi [Mbeki] made a contribution, which was in line with people who spoke before him,” he said. Another NEC member said Ramaphosa told the meeting that the government was pulling all stops to ensure the delivery of vaccines to fight the spread of Covid-19. The president and Health Minister Zweli Mkhize gave an update of the country’s fight against the global pandemic.

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“The January 8 statement was the only item. We had a peaceful meeting,” he said.

The member added that Ramaphosa had stressed the importance of unity in the governing party as it prepared for the local elections.

Reading the statement on Friday, Ramaphosa said the party was not going to tolerate members involved in crooked practices like vote-buying, branch list manipulation to secure positions or extending patronage to get votes.

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The ANC reiterated its resolution that members who fail to give an acceptable explanation or to voluntarily step down while they face investigations or prosecution will be summarily suspended. Ex-president Jacob Zuma was also part of the meeting but did not speak.

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