Former President Thabo Mbeki says Africa must use next year’s centenary of the African National Congress, South Africa’s current ruling party and the continent’s oldest liberation movement, to come up with ways of defending its interests from Western powers, which, he says, serve their own agenda.
Mbeki has largely been absent from ruling-party events since his ousting from office in 2008. But, in an interview with the Sunday Times last week, he said he would play a role in making the celebrations a success, as the centenary was important not only to South Africa, but also the continent. “We will make our various inputs to make sure that the anniversary is celebrated in the manner that it should. It’s the centenary, it comes once in a hundred years and I am sure it will be an occasion where people will indeed reflect,” he said.
He said the ANC should use its 100th anniversary celebrations to reflect not only on the past, but also on the present and future role it needs to play in the liberation struggle, The Sunday Times reported. He hoped ANC leaders would use the occasion to open discussions on Africa’s challenges and how it, as the continent’s oldest liberation movement, could strengthen its role in Africa. “I know that comrades in the ANC are preparing very actively to celebrate the centenary next year. It’s going to be a very important day to reflect on the past, but, more particularly, to look at the present and the future as to where are processes which resulted in independence of the African continent and the end of apartheid. Where are we today and where should we be tomorrow?”
The continent, he added, should also use the celebrations to come up with ways of defending its interests from Western powers, which, he says, serve their own agenda. “It will be a very important occasion for that, and I know there are many people in the continent who are interested in the ANC’s centenary celebrations, because they see it being relevant to the rest of the continent. The discussion should help also on the challenges that they face and therefore the challenges that we face together as Africans. I am sure that all of us are going to make our own inputs into that, because I think it would be necessary to hear as many voices as possible about all of the major questions.”
Referring to Nato air strikes in Libya, as well as French involvement in the Ivory Coast conflict, Mbeki called for mass protests throughout the continent. He also urged governments to speak out in condemnation of such acts, the Sunday broadsheet said. “As Africans, we need to look at ourselves and say what it is we need to do to defend our interests. The question we need to ask ourselves is: why are we so quiet? What happened in Libya might very well be a precursor of what might happen in another country. I think that all of us need to consider this matter, because this is a major disaster.
“We can’t say that we can’t stop these Western powers from acting in the way that they have been acting because they will do it again tomorrow. I think we can, provided that we act and they can see that if they take this kind of action, they are going to meet the resistance of the entire African continent.
“But, unfortunately, our voice is very weak and we have to do something to strengthen this and speak out about the rights of Africans to decide their future,” he reportedly said.