Open Letter To Thabo Mbeki

Dear Cde Mbeki

The events that came to pass in our country in the last week have left me very little option, but to address you directly on the matters at hand.
I am certain that you are painfully aware that the release of the transcripts of the conversations between Ngcuka and McCarthy, not only sent shockwaves through the nation, but through our movement. The NPA briefing finally bought closure to a painful episode of your reign both as President of the Republic and of the ANC. An episode one hopes will never come to pass ever again in the history of our movement.
It is a sad reality that the phenomenon we are dealing with today is a result of your actions of conniving, manipulating people and advancing politics of patronage. Despite the fact that you were a democratically elected President, you chose to run both the organisation and the country with a cabal which sought to commandeer everyone along your thinking and vision, which at times ran contrary to what the ANC stood for.

Mandela led the ANC with distinction, and acknowledged at all times that he will always be subject to its authority and directives, even after he left the office of ANC President. His leadership at the helm of the ANC continues to inspire our forward momentum and his wisdom will remain a point of reference for generations to come.
Mandela’s wise words, an icon of our liberation struggle, an embodiment of the ANC’s values, continue to reverberate to this day. At the time of your acceptance of your election as President of the ANC at the Mafikeng Conference in 1997, Madiba said, "...here are the reigns of the movement – protect and guard its precious legacy; defend its unity and integrity as committed disciples of change; pursue its popular objectives like true revolutionaries who seek only to serve the nation… As an ordinary member of the ANC I suppose that I will also have many privileges that I have been deprived of over the years: to be as critical as I can be; to challenge any signs of ‘autocracy from Shell House’; and to lobby for my preferred candidates from the branch level upwards… I look forward to that period when I will be able to wake up with the sun; to walk the hills and valleys of Qunu in peace and tranquillity. And I am confident that this will certainly be the case because, as I do so, and see the smiles on the faces of children which reflect the sunshine in their hearts, I will know, comrade Thabo and your team, that you are on the right track; you are succeeding. "

Having reflected on Mandela’s words, I am certain that you either did not hear his wise words, or you deliberately elected not to take heed of them. His challenge to you to defend the unity and integrity of the ANC was central to his message and should have been a beacon in your leadership of the ANC. The smiles on the faces of the children are yet to reflect the sunshine in their hearts, because that moment is yet to come.

Mandela handed you a vibrant and united ANC, yet at the twilight of your Presidency, you chose to betray everything that Mandela and those that came before him stood for, struggled for, and laid down their lives for. In a moment of intoxication with
power, you forgot Madiba’s wise counsel and allowed our glorious movement to stumble on the edge of an abyss.
When your cabal was finally defeated in Polokwane because of its actions and underhanded tactics at securing a third term for you as a President of the ANC, they went into an elaborate conspiratorial mode, famously dubbed "the fightback strategy," which clearly carried your blessing. It is one’s considered view that it was the failure of this strategy that led you and your lieutenants to spawn the so-called Congress of the People as a vehicle to fight the ANC and undermine its hegemony and legacy.

It is a sad day in our nation that one has to allude that your legacy, at its pinnacle, has only brought us shame and disgrace, overshadowing what would have otherwise been a commendable political career. It is not my place to pass judgement, but am convinced that history will judge you very harshly for what you have come to represent in the latter day.
I find it rather instructive that in your reaction to the release of the Ngcuka/McCarthy transcripts you chose to pose the question as to how did the tapes come to be in the possession of the ANC President’s lawyers. The more fundamental issue which I would have expected would be your primary preoccupation would be how did you fail the nation so badly such that the chain of events over the last nine years landed us in the position we find ourselves in today. How did the state apparatus become so embroiled in partisan politics that sought to rip our movement apart such that not even the highest office in the land had the political will to put brakes on the rot that was settling in?

While the movement may take collective responsibility for the actions of our government as a ruling party, however, my heart bleeds that the relationship of trust the ANC conferred on you in Mafikeng was broken. The mantra of your Presidency, "the rule of law" was betrayed in the most vulgar way possible.

• When spy allegations were levelled at Bulelani Ngcuka, then National Director of Public Prosecutions, you were swift in your appointment of the Heffer Commission to probe those allegations as an attempt to protect him;
• When the infamous off-the-record briefings conducted by Bulelani Ngcuka came to light, where Ngcuka is alleged to have made libellous remarks about Jacob Zuma, who was the Deputy President of the Republic at the time, you conveniently turned a blind eye and failed to act;
• When Bulelani Ngcuka, flanked by then Minister of Justice, Pennuel Maduna addressed a media briefing wherein he suggested that Cde Zuma had a case to answer, but he will not prosecute him, you once again conveniently failed to act on what was a blatant violation of Cde Zuma’s rights;
• You then proceeded to appoint Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka as Deputy President of the Republic as a reward to the loyalty of the Ngcukas;
• When the Public Protector pronounced on the violation of Cde Zuma’s rights, his findings were met with scorn, and again, no action was forthcoming on your part;
• When the National Intelligence Agency expressed alarm about the unlawful activities of the Scorpions, once again you did nothing;

• When the Browse Mole report came to light, which was produced by the Scorpions, you were quick to dismiss it as work of counter-revolutionary forces, and proceeded to ignore the recommendations of Parliament’s Joint Standing Committee on Intelligence. In an interesting twist or irony, McCarthy, who was the head of the DSO at the time was rewarded with a handsome golden handshake and a recommendation for a high ranking job with the World Bank, at a time when he and those who were responsible for the Browse Mole report should have been under investigation;
• You did not hesitate to destroy a relationship that spanned decades between yourself and Billy Masetlha when he raised concerns about the allegedly hoax emails that were making rounds, and you defined your relationship with him as irretrievable.
• You continued to protect Jackie Selebi, the National Police Commissioner and did not hesitate to suspend Vusi Pikoli, the National Director of Public Prosecutions when he sought to arrest Selebi, for reasons known only to yourself;
• You dismissed Cde Zuma, then Deputy President of the Republic, on the basis of inferences in the Shabir Shaik trial. Interestingly, you were quick to cry foul when Justice Nicholson made far reaching findings in his judgements and drew inferences on your perceived interference with due processes of law;
• You failed to take the nation into confidence and confirm that you were the author of the now famous letter to the Standing Committee on Public Accounts (SCOPA) on the arms deal, a letter which was a central piece of evidence at the Shaik trial;
• You conducted briefings to ANC structures, religious community, opposition parties (particularly the DA) on how corrupt Cde Zuma was, in an attempt to garner public support and sympathy, and whereby you arrogated yourself the role of being a judge in Cde Zuma’s persecution;
• You were highly implicated as a central player in the compilation of a dossier which sought to defame Cde Zuma in the run-up to Polokwane, which was distributed among ANC delegates at conference;
• You failed to engage the leadership of the ANC in a face to face engagement, and you reduced your relationship with Cde Zuma to an exchange of letters, whose contents you leaked to Terror Lekota;
• You flatly refused to campaign for the ANC, despite your assertion that you remain a loyal member of the ANC, and demanded that a letter be written to you in this regard. It was the first time ever that a cadre of the ANC had to be written a letter in order for them to campaign for the ANC. Not even Mandela ever made such a demand on the ANC. Such practice is foreign to the tried and tested traditions of the ANC and can best be described as anti-ANC;

It is therefore my considered view that you left the state apparatus in absolute disarray and the state machinery completely paralysed.
It is equally interesting that you believe the Inspector-General will save the day in what has become public humiliation of Ngcuka and McCarthy. The fundamental question that must preoccupy the Inspector-General is not how the tapes found their way to the ANC President’s lawyers, but rather how deep did this conspiracy ran and to ensure that relevant organs of state act swiftly to bring the perpetrators to book.

What happened to the values of the ANC, which at some point in your political career embodies and taught others? What happened to the ethos that says the ANC is bigger than all of us, we are but humble servants of this revolutionary movement? What happened to the pursuit of the founding ideals of the ANC, which the giants of our revolution who include Cdes Langalibalele Dube, Sol Plaatjie, Walter Sisulu, Moses Kotane, Oliver Tambo, Nelson Mandela and many others personified?

There remains little doubt that the establishment of COPE has your blessings and you continue to encourage them to swear by your name because you do not believe that the ANC can advance the age of hope under the stewardship of Cde Zuma, and that it will survive without you.
I doubt if today you were president, this conspiracy that has come to light would have been uncovered.

Fikile Mbalula
Writing in his personal capacity

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