Cape Town – ANC secretary-general Fikile Mbalula has clarified his previous statements about Thabo Mbeki, saying that he holds deep respect for the former president.
The ruling party conducted a manifesto review event at Harry Gwala Stadium in Pietermaritzburg, KwaZulu-Natal, on Sunday, as it prepares for the challenging 2024 elections.
Reports indicated that during the rally, Mbalula exhibited a lack of respect toward the former statesman.
MBALULA: OLD MAN THABO MBEKI HAS REGRESSED TO A YOUNG CHILD
“…Even Thabo Mbeki, we have not fought with him. He goes around, saying whatever he wants to say… You see, when a person is old, they return to being a young child, saying whatever they like… Don’t bother… Even… pic.twitter.com/RSv3smAEVG
— Mr. Tshweu (@TshweuMoleme) October 8, 2023
“…Even Thabo Mbeki, we have not fought with him. He goes around, saying whatever he wants to say…You see, when a person is old, they return to being a young child, saying whatever they like… Don’t bother…
“Even when he says things we don’t like. They are old now. We will let them say whatever they want to say,” Mbalula said.
According to The Citizen, Mbalula clarified that he has “tremendous respect” for Mbeki and that his remarks were taken out of context.
He explained that his comments were meant to highlight the freedom of speech that veterans and former leaders enjoy within the ANC.
“This was meant to call into line those who are quick to criticise former leaders and veterans of the movement when they make what others regard as unpopular utterances.
“It is rather unfortunate that there are people who chose to ignore the context of my remarks in reference to former president Thabo Mbeki at the rally, and chose to suggest that my remarks were an attack on president Mbeki. There could be nothing further from the truth,” the report quoted Mbalula as saying.
Mbalula emphasised that this phenomenon of former leaders expressing their opinions is not limited to Mbeki but has been observed with other past leaders as well.
He also noted that he maintains an open and respectful communication line with Mbeki and seeks his counsel on matters concerning the ANC.
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Compiled by Betha Madhomu