Baleka Mbete: ‘We’ll sleep better if someone deals with monster of state capture’

JOHANNESBURG, SOUTH AFRICA – AUGUST 03: African National Congress chairwoman Baleka Mbete during her visit in Orange Farm on August 03, 2017 in Johannesburg, South Africa. Mbete visited the area to drum up support for her bid for the organization’s presidency. (Photo by Gallo Images / Sowetan / Sandile Ndlovu)

NAME: Baleka Mbete

AGE: 68

IN GOVERNMENT: From 1996 to 2004, Mbete was deputy speaker of the National Assembly and from 2004 to 2008 she held the position of speaker. When President Thabo Mbeki resigned in 2008, she was appointed as deputy president under interim president Kgalema Mothlante until 20 May 2009. In 2014 she was again appointed as speaker of the National Assembly, a position in which she still serves, despite attempts by the opposition to remove her as she has also been the ANC’s national chairperson since 2007.

UPSIDE: She is an ANC stalwart with strong struggle credentials and who’s held leadership positions in the party for many years.

DOWNSIDE: As presiding officer of Parliament, much of the turmoil that characterises the Fifth Parliament is blamed on her, with last year’s judgment of the Constitutional Court on the Nkandla matter a major indictment. While those opposing President Jacob Zuma will say she has shielded him from accountability in the house, those in the Zuma camp will say she hasn’t done enough to shield him from MPs, notably the EFF, in Parliament. Her decision to allow a secret ballot in August’s motion of no confidence in Zuma would have done little to endear her to the Zuma camp.

She has also ran a lacklustre campaign. Mbete was rumoured to have been promised support for the ANC presidency by Zuma, when she was reluctant to become speaker of the National Assembly. She was said to have instead preferred to stay with her deputy president salary. However, Zuma has supported Dlamini-Zuma.

Her campaign lost steam very early on and has been described by some as a non-starter. She has hardly been seen on campaign trail.

ON RET: “The radical economic transformation requires able and willing people to propel, sustain and accelerate, as the next phase of our National Democratic Revolution.”

On state capture: She has supported a judicial commission of inquiry while Parliament is also holding an inquiry into Eskom.

“I believe it is desirable to have a commission of inquiry into state capture in its broad sense.”

She said there will be a “structure that will probe into whatever you understand into state capture”.

“We will all sleep better when we know some people are dealing with this monster.”

Support base: After the ANC Women’s League threw their support behind Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, no clear support base for Mbete has emerged.

SLATE: Thus far Mbete has not announced a slate, nor is there anything resembling a slate on the rumour mill.

When it became clear that she was a candidate for the party’s presidency, Business Day reported in July that she would want to serve with David Mabuza, Fikile Mbalula, Lindiwe Sisulu and Thandi Modise and that they were considering Tokyo Sexwale or Paul Mashatile. However, Mabuza and Mbalula are now believed to be in the Dlamini-Zuma camp. None of these leaders have publicly endorsed Mbete.

(Photo credit: Gallo Images / Sowetan / Sandile Ndlovu)