ANC lambasted by billionaire Mo Ibrahim


Mo Ibrahim: "Ruling party needs to go back to its roots"

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It was not the rudest criticism South Africa's ruling African National Congress (ANC) has endured. Nor was it the most detailed.

But the frowning, reluctant, brutal judgement of one of the continent's most successful and wealthy businessmen carried with it a certain grim, gold-plated clout.

Mo Ibrahim was in Johannesburg on Thursday to announce that Archbishop Desmond Tutu was getting yet another prize.

Richly deserved no doubt, and a gentle reminder of the fearless, selfless leadership that South Africa is sorely missing these days. But not much of a surprise, or call to arms.

After the announcement, though, I spoke at some length with Mr Ibrahim about the current labour unrest and what many are calling the crisis of leadership across South Africa's ruling classes.

"I know I'm saying something quite controversial," he said, almost apologetically, as he swung into attack. "The ANC people may not like to hear this."

Mr Ibrahim's criticisms can be broadly summed up as the ANC's institutional weaknesses, and its loss of direction.

'Lost innocence?'

Start Quote

I'm less enthusiastic than I was five or 10 years ago”

End Quote Mo Ibrahim on investing in South Africa

But here is now he put it: "We're very, very concerned. South Africa is very important for the development of Africa.

"It should be a powerhouse. We can see a lot of challenges here - the mines, education," he said.

"I think the ruling party needs to go back to its roots and [do some] soul searching about its policies of the last 15 years or so.

"What has been lost? Did it lose its own innocence?

"The ANC's current structure has been a huge tent - a very useful tool to fight apartheid… it brought together… business, communists, the church, liberals.

"But that battle has been won. Facing the future, how does the ANC now turn itself into a political party? That is a major challenge.

"Will the ANC be able to continue in its current structure to really face those challenges or does it need to redefine itself as a political party?

"How can a political party be both extreme right and extreme left?

"Because a party at the end has to come round an ideology and have some clarity of direction… Governance is really tough and I really hope the ANC finds a way forward."

Mr Ibrahim urged "all parties" to come together to start a dialogue to end the labour unrest partly triggered by the August killings at the Marikana platinum mine.

"What happened is not acceptable. Not from a government run by the ANC," he said.

I ended by asking him if he would invest in South Africa.

"I will," he said, after a short pause.

"But I'm less enthusiastic than I was five or 10 years ago.

"We really need some more clarity. I think the country has an amazing future in front of it and we should not really muddle that future."

Andrew Harding Article written by Andrew Harding Andrew Harding Africa correspondent

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  • rate this

    Comment number 16.

    Arrogance. Nepotism. Corruption. There has never been such a gang of shameless thieves in the history of mankind. It is estimated that in the 18 years that the cANCer has been in power that ZAR650 BILLION has been lost to corruption, maladministration and tenderpreneurs. The ANC is morally and intellectually bankrupt. They have destroyed the economic powerhouse of Africa. Fools to the last man.

  • rate this

    Comment number 15.

    this useless government here is not doing anything to stop the strikes, and to put the cherry on the top is the president is doing upgrades to his home to the value of EURO 20 300 000, just upgrades using tax money while there's people going hungry and don't have homes...

  • rate this

    Comment number 14.

    @5 Arthur

    Comment. Make them censor you. Staying silent means the Beeb wins by default.

  • rate this

    Comment number 13.

    12,000 south africans fired in 1 day, the ANC totally out of touch, the opposition advocating the seizure of land from 'whites'. Good game South Africa, you're the next Congo.

  • rate this

    Comment number 12.

    Democracy is the most popular form of government worldwide, but is foreign to African society. It is only successful when all involved buy in and take ownership of the philosophy. In South Africa, the current government dons and doffs democracy according to its moods, and ignores the demand to account for its actions, which is in line with traditional African society norms.


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