Moeletsi Mbeki: Anti-ANC comments ‘exaggerated’

Mbeki outlined a number of failures by the ANC at a debate with Helen Zille.

FILE: Political commentator Moeletsi Mbeki in conversation with EWN.

JOHANNESBURG - Moeletsi Mbeki said on Wednesday that comments he had made during a debate with Helen Zille about the ANC were exaggerated.

He made the claim while speaking to 567 Cape Talk/Talk Radio 702's Stephen Grootes on The Midday Report.

The political analyst, and younger brother of former president Thabo Mbeki, participated in a debate with the Democratic Alliance (DA) leader on Tuesday night in Johannesburg.

The debate, entitled 'Is South Africa at a Crossroads?', was hosted by the DA Young Professionals at Crowne Plaza in Rosebank.

It was aimed at answering questions such as how to fix the education system, how to create jobs and what the role of citizens will be in the future of South Africa.

A number of reports emerged on Wednesday which implied that Mbeki had slammed the ruling party during the debate.

The Star newspaper suggested he had "launched a scathing attack on the ANC", while the Daily Maverick suggested, "It was an easy night for both speakers, who set each other up to take the ANC down."

However, Mbeki said, "I think there was a bit of exaggeration about what I said at the debate".

Mbeki explained that he had indeed criticised the ANC for a number of failures, but said he couldn't align himself for or against any one party.

"The point I made there was that after 20 years in power, the ANC has failed to solve the public education crisis, has failed to solve the unemployment and the black poverty problem, the problem of the de-industrialisation of the economy, the problem of rising corruption and the loss of control of the country's borders."

He conceded that the government had in fact done some good work in the country but projects like the building of RDP (Reconstruction and Development Programme) housing could have been done better.

He said that if one visits a place like Hong Kong, they will see low-income housing in the form of high-rise buildings rather than "little" RDP houses.

"The reason high-rise buildings are chosen is because they require industry to back them up - to produce steel, to produce elevators, to produce huge amounts of cement. RDP houses, [while] you can build as many millions as you like, do not lead to the industrialisation of the country."

Asked whether he thought the ANC could lose a substantial number of votes in the 2014 elections, Mbeki noted that the ANC electorate has been declining since 2009.

"I expect that it will continue to decline, which does not necessarily mean the ANC will not have the majority."

He also said while parties like Agang and the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) would likely get some seats in Parliament, they would not have much of an impact.

"I haven't heard a cohesive enough message from them on how to solve these big problems [which] I have outlined."