Helen Zille debates why SA is at a crossroads. Photo: Caro Malherbe

Helen Zille debates why SA is at a crossroads. Photo: Caro Malherbe

POLITICAL analyst and businessman, Moeletsi Mbeki said the ANC has merely “put a plaster over poverty” in the last 20 years.

Mbeki joined Democratic Alliance (DA) Premier, Helen Zille for a discussion with young professionals at the Crowne Plaza in Rosebank on Tuesday. The topic of the discussion was “Is South Africa at a Crossroads?”

Mbeki said that while South Africa is not at a crossroads, the ANC is.

“The ANC is a political party, South Africa is a country”, said the younger brother of former president Thabo Mbeki.

Mbeki said the past few weeks South Africa has seen the launch of new political parties, who have been breakaways from the ANC such as the Economic Freedom Fighters and SA First—which was founded by veterans of uMkhonto we Sizwe.

He said the reason for the breakaway parties was that the ANC has been in power for 20 years and hardly dented poverty. He made a comparison with China’s progress as they managed to get 20 million people out of poverty, within the last 20 years.

Zille addressed the 300-odd crowd by disagreeing with Mbeki’s argument and said: “South Africa is at a crossroads because the ANC’s politics are South Africa’s politics.”

She said if the ANC is at a crossroads then “willy nilly” South Africa is too.

However, she believes that South Africa now has a much better chance of overcoming these crossroads than 20 years ago.

She also touched on corruption when she said: “The ANC is still such a dominant presence in the state, in institutions that are supposed to be independent that are no longer and in business.”

Zille went on to agree with Mbeki and she said the core fault is that there is a “dividing line right through the middle of the ANC” which creates visceral crossroads for South Africa.

Mbeki and Zille both agreed that there is need for a strong competitive party to oppose the ANC. Zille said a party will only perform when they are scared of voters “firing” them. She said the ANC is not threatened because they are playing on race.

She said that it is up to voters to make a difference by voting out politicians who under perform. “South Africans get the government they vote for.”