Mbeki takes some jabs at Zuma govt

Former president says those calling for WMC to be declared the enemy of NDR were abusing the phrase

Johannesburg - Former president Thabo Mbeki has taken some jabs at President Jacob Zuma’s government, accusing it of taking incoherent decisions.

He also rubbished Zuma's supporters for labelling white monopoly capital as the enemy and for demanding changes to the Constitution to allow for land expropriation without compensation.

Mbeki was interviewed on Gauteng radio station Power FM on Thursday night and, for more than two hours, reflected on his term in office, economic challenges facing the country, and problems facing the ANC.

He criticised Zuma's management of his Cabinet, when asked what advice he would give the government to tackle the economic crisis.

Mbeki said the president, as chair of Cabinet, must understand all the issues discussed in Cabinet, to ensure cohesion and avoid contradictory government department decisions.

"Otherwise you don’t have a government, you don’t have a centre that can hold," Mbeki said.

During his time, he said, ministers had to be well prepared for Cabinet meetings, fully aware of what their counterparts were proposing for adoption and ready to defend their own proposals.

"What needs to emerge are Cabinet decisions because, if you don’t do that, you have individual departmental decisions. Instead of having Cabinet, you have what I call a federation of ministries. Trevor [Manuel] corrected me and said it's a confederation of ministries," Mbeki said.

'It's an abuse of a phrase, a concept'

Mbeki said that, while the National Development Plan - which is the government's blueprint for development - had wide support, it was more a vision than a plan.

Those calling for white monopoly capital to be declared the enemy of the National Democratic Revolution (NDR) were abusing the phrase for political gain, Mbeki argued.

"You have some people talking about white monopoly capital. What is that? It's an abuse of a phrase, a concept which was used in scientific economic literature and which talked about monopoly capital."

He insisted that the structure of capital has changed since 1994, with 40% of capital at the Johannesburg Stock Exchange (JSE) owned by foreigners and the Public Investment Corporation (PIC), which manages pensions of public servants invested on the JSE.

"So when somebody comes to you to say the principal enemy of NDR is white monopoly capital… You are suggesting that I must take action against [the] enemy, otherwise what is the point of pointing out an enemy," Mbeki said.

'Let's deal with it properly'

On the land question, he said the country needed a serious conversation, instead of using it for electioneering.

He singled out Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) leader Julius Malema, who was in the audience.

"Let's discuss it without slogans. I know you need to win elections [Malema], but let's deal with it properly," Mbeki said.

Malema, who took a front row seat, had challenged Mbeki to deal with the slow redistribution of land.

A faction within the ANC, led by Zuma, is pushing for the Constitution to be amended to allow for land expropriation without compensation.

"Including this phenomenon, you have the land restitution process, and people win claims and win land, and when they are told 'you succeeded', they'd rather take the money… why not land," Mbeki said.