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SA needs a national dialogue to assess its progress - Mbeki

The former president says South Africans need to have a frank discussion about the future.

Former South African President Thabo Mbeki. Picture: Facebook.

JOHANNESBURG - Former President Thabo Mbeki says South Africa needs a national dialogue to assess the progress that's been made during the democratic era, and has warned that if this is not done, none of the country's problems will be solved.

Mbeki has thrown his weight behind a new initiative being led by the foundations of struggle stalwarts, Robert Sobukwe, Oliver Tambo, FW de Klerk and Desmond Tutu, who plan to have a series of public talks about where the nation is headed.

Yesterday, Mbeki responded to the outcomes of the Arms Deal Commission and presented an update on his campaign to stop the illicit financial outflows in Africa.

Mbeki says South Africans need to have a frank discussion about the future.

"I think it's a very important issue, it's important that we as South Africans must indeed engage in that dialogue about our country and its future because it's quite clear that there are many things that have not gone right."

He says the dialogues should set a path for the future and South Africans should act on it.

"We've not set ourselves these objectives, so let's act together to do that. If that means removing Max Boqwana from his position as the CEO of the foundation, let that be the outcome."

The foundations have not yet finalised a schedule for the dialogues, which are expected to happen this year.

WATCH:_ Mbeki tackles illicit financial outflows issue._

LOOK INTO SERITI COMMISSION

Mbeki said the outcome of the Seriti Commission of Inquiry into the arms deal is not surprising as no evidence of corruption was presented to it during the investigation.

He said it's also unrealistic to expect damaging findings to emanate from the commission because international investigations claimed that South African officials acted irregularly.

The former president spoke about the outcome of the commission and his experience as one of its witnesses.

Mbeki said while whistle-blowers insist the purchase of arms by the South African government was corrupt, no-one has been able to provide any evidence.

"The British, the Swedes and this and that did their own investigation so the commission did the right thing to visit all these country and say can you please give us information that will be relevant to our work. Not one of them has any information that there was corruption about this."

He also said Schabir Shaik and Tony Yengeni went to jail for their dealings with sub-contracted companies and Mercedes Benz respectively and this was not related to the arms deal.

"What Schabir Shaik appeared in court about is something that happened afterwards, he's not least connected to the defence procurement, not in the least."

Mbeki said people who claim the process was corrupt are perpetuating a stereotype which paints African governments as corrupt.