Former president Thabo Mbeki. Picture: SOWETAN
Former president Thabo Mbeki. Picture: SOWETAN

FORMER president Thabo Mbeki yesterday launched an attack on his detractors, including journalists and senior African National Congress (ANC) members who constantly "propagated (the) notion" that he was aloof and thus he "must go".

Mr Mbeki lost to President Jacob Zuma in a bitter and controversial power struggle in 2008. He has since regularly launched thinly veiled attacks on his former rival and other leaders of the ANC and its alliance partners. Last month Mr Mbeki attacked South African Communist Party (SACP) first deputy general secretary and Deputy Public Works Minister Jeremy Cronin, for comments he made in 2002 when he spoke about the "Zanufication of the ANC".

In his latest letter — Dare you ponder the obvious: of course Mbeki is aloof — posted on his leadership institute’s Facebook page, Mr Mbeki wrote that during his days as president and leading up to the fateful Polokwane conference in 2007, "the charge of being ‘aloof’ rested on the assertion that whether intentionally or not, my very style of leadership meant that I deliberately chose to be ‘not in touch with the people’, (and the membership of the ANC), obviously having ‘arrogated to myself the status of being the source of all wisdom’".

Mr Mbeki rubbished talk that he was aloof during his presidency, saying that he engaged stakeholders including ordinary citizens and attended ANC and government meetings, "never standing aloof from the ANC leadership".

He took aim at SACP boss and Higher Education and Training Minister Blade Nzimande, after he was quoted in the Mail and Guardian in September of 2009 saying: "there is an almost complete national consensus that Mbeki’s aloof and intolerant personality was a disaster…Thankfully we are now once more in a situation in which national dialogue and debate are possible".

Mr Mbeki also made mention of some journalists writing for the local and international press who also apparently pushed for his downfall.

". ..Much more relevant were the views expressed by a leading South African journalist, Ms Karima Brown, who clearly sought to convince all who would listen that — Mbeki must go!" he wrote.

Ms Brown authored a piece 2006 in which she said Mr Mbeki’s sell-by date "was stapled on his back".

Seemingly also taking aim at ANC treasurer Zweli Mkhize, Mr Mbeki wrote: "As Zweli Mkhize had correctly stated concerning Ms Brown’s reports about the 2012 ANC National Conference, history suggests that she was also very accurate in foreseeing that her wishes would be fulfilled at the 2007 ANC National Conference.

"In this regard, she obviously had the correct understanding of the impact the sustained charge of aloofness, and other similar negative assessments of the then president of the ANC, would have on the delegates gathered at the 2007 Polokwane Conference."

Ms Brown had yet to respond to request for comment yesterday.