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.

  • rate this

    Comment number 11.

    total lack of accountability.incompetence is spectacular and greed savage,
    south africans are not nearly angry enough.
    We are on our way to a banana republic .wildlife wiped out ,institutions gone healthcare gone as is education.things are worse than generally stated.

  • rate this

    Comment number 10.

    sadly, Anria's comment covers the world at large, not just South Africa

  • rate this

    Comment number 9.

    So why is he giving money to Tutu and how is that in any way critical? Sounds more like support than lambasting. If he funded refugee applications for people in fear of persecution,one may see some humanitarian justification, but giving money to a religious leader, that openly supports a taxation system based on "privilege" is just weird, it sounds like democracy is being usurped by communism.

  • rate this

    Comment number 8.

    There is a big problem in Africa. Lack of leadership and corruption are affectiving all African countries and include South Africa.

  • rate this

    Comment number 7.

    Not exactly a scathing attack, but former trade union leader Jay Naidoo, who is now a board member of the Mo Ibrahim Foundation, said that people had to learn that success was not about money (which is a western valuation) but about building successful communities (which is the African valuation). Absolutely correct. Africa, in short, must return to its own roots.

  • rate this

    Comment number 6.

    Children without school books in Limpopo province due to blatant fraud by the local government elite. How many have been arrested - none.

    This is the norm. It may seem like a minor issue but is at the heart of the problem in SA and Africa as a whole. Corruption, greed and nepotism.

    It is a cultural issue. It will not cahnge. There is no hope.

  • rate this

    Comment number 5.

    I would like to comment, but regret that any remark of mine that might suggest African leaders are greedy and incompetent will be regarded as being racist.

  • rate this

    Comment number 4.

    re. last 2 comments - to quote george bizos - "I hate generalisations."

  • rate this

    Comment number 3.

    I remembered Nelson Mandela's comment when he said: "Nigeria but why!"
    Now it's South Africa but why?? Sadly ANC has lost the plot, Greed as in in most African countries has practically taken over. The leadership seem to be lost in fear of something somehow. Are you being manipulated South Africa?

  • rate this

    Comment number 2.

    a quick look at african history will show that every single attempt at leadership is a failure - i cannot think of a single success story. the tribal culture does not lend itself to sensible governance - the colour is fading from the rainbow nation - get rid of the ANC if positive management and direction is required - these thugs couldn't organise a large party at a brewery.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1.

    I couldnt agree more. Unfortuneately, in the current atmosphere in South Africa, one cannot critisize the ruling party without being accused of being a racist and an apartheid sympathiser. It has become reminiscent of an Orwell novel. In the end we dont need more black or white politicians, but more politicians who actually care about the people they represent.



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