I am not Jacob Zuma’s friend, says ANC veteran Mbete

Former ANC national chairperson Baleka Mbete said on Wednesday that she was not interested in talking to uMkhonto weSizwe (MK) Party leader and former ANC boss Jacob Zuma.

Mbete was campaigning for the ruling party in Ekurhuleni ahead of the general elections scheduled to take place on May 29.

When asked if she had reached out to Zuma about dumping the ANC for the MK Party, Mbete said: “Why have I not engaged with him? We are not friends; we were comrades who worked together at a particular time.

“I have nothing to engage him on.”

Nucleus of Zuma’s survival

She and Zuma were strong allies, especially coming out of the 2007 Polokwane conference, where Zuma was elected ANC president.

During the Zuma years at the Union Buildings, she continued to be the nucleus of Zuma’s survival in the National Assembly, where more than half a dozen motions of no confidence were defeated with Mbete presiding.

It was also under Mbete that the ANC caucus controversially voted to protect Zuma over alleged non-security upgrades at his Nkandla home.

She insisted that she did nothing wrong, as all she was doing was her work within the legal prescripts.

ANC will win overwhelmingly

“[I did not protect Zuma] because he was a person I worked with in my political party or that he was perhaps an ANC person,” said Mbete.

“It was on the basis of the house rules that I was implementing decisions. I have no regrets.”

Later, while addressing the community of Palm Ridge in Sebokeng, Mbete admitted that MK was a thorn in the side of the ANC, but called on ANC leaders and volunteers to focus on themselves and tell the ANC’s good story.

“On the 29th of May, the ANC will win overwhelmingly, and this is a promise we are making.

“It does not matter who [Zuma] did it or whether his move [MK Party] scared us and confused us.

“Do not mind; sleep very peacefully at night; ours is to remind ourselves about the good work of the ANC,” said Mbete.

Many people still love the ANC

Mbete believes that the ANC remains largely popular and loved by the majority of South Africans because of its achievements in the past 30 years.

She said the ANC government was not perfect, but it had largely done well and improved the lives of many people.

Splinters like the MK Party were not going to win because they have nothing to show as proof of what they have done for the country, she added.

Mbete was the latest in the long list of retired ANC leaders that have resurfaced to bolster the governing party’s dwindling electoral fortunes.

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