President Jacob Zuma is only surviving this long because leaders within the African National Congress (ANC) have opted to take collective responsibility for his actions instead of taking the moral high road, former treasurer Mathews Phosa says.
Speaking to reporters after delivering a keynote address at an exhibition titled “Promises and Lies: The ANC, Exile and the Project of Freedom” at the University of Johannesburg on Thursday, Phosa said Zuma’s political survival was happening at the nation’s expense.
“He is surviving so long at the expense of the national interest and at the expense of the ANC.”
He said this was mainly because “comrades in the ANC” are not taking their responsibilities to the nation seriously.
“If they took their responsibilities seriously, they would never accept collective responsibility for corruption, it’s wrong. It’s wrong to take collective responsibility for wrong things. It is wrong for us to protect one another when we have committed wrongs, we should not do that. That’s why he’s surviving. When they start to take the moral highway, he won’t survive,” Phosa said.
The exhibition was centred around photographs and a short film documenting the ANC during its liberation struggle, at its base camps in Tanzania and Zambia, in the years prior to the dawn of South Africa’s democracy. It highlighted the military role of the party as well as the leaders at the time, which included Walter Sisulu, Ray Mhlaba, Elias Motsoaledi and Govan Mbeki to name a few.
In some of the pictures, taken sometime in 1990, one can see the younger Thabo Mbeki and Jacob Zuma who worked with the party leaders, South African Communist Party leader Chris Hani and Zambian president Kenneth Kaunda.
Party then and now
The short documentary highlights the difference between the party then versus the state of the party in the present day and interviews former finance minister Trevor Manuel, IPID boss Robert McBride as well as former SARS commissioner Ivan Pillay who reflect on the ANC then and now.
Phosa said walking through the Faculty of Art Design and Architecture gallery, where the exhibition is being held, made him emotional mainly because the ANC had lost part of its core foundation.
“We need to revisit our history and learn from it. What made these people go to exile, take to war and fight? We need to appreciate their sacrifices, we need to engage the memory in a positive way and say to ourselves ‘what are the lessons from the past’,”
He said in 1994 when the ANC won the elections and took over as the governing party, it was so concerned with building a new South Africa that it shelved all the experience it had gained in exile.
“Now when we look at ourselves in the mirror today, we don’t look like we look in 1912. We don’t look like we did in 1994. The values which they believed in, we are no longer representing them.
“We should go back and say ‘let us start representing those values’. Let’s anchor again from the lessons of what they represented,” he said.
One of the ways the party needed to do that was not to condone racism in the country.
“We cannot choose a path of racism, whether it's white racism or black racism, they are all racism, and therefore we cannot choose any of those paths, we know what white racism can do, we know what black racism can do, they are equally evil,” he said.