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Thabo Mbeki Quotes

21 Sep 2008

"Gloom and despondency have never defeated adversity. Trying times need courage and resilience. Our strength as a people is not tested during the best of times. As we said before, we should never become despondent because the weather is bad nor should we turn triumphalist because the sun shines." Mbeki, in his resignation speech.

1 Apr 2007

Peter Tatchell
October 2006

"I hate to criticise my friends in the ANC but the truth is that President Mbeki's "quiet diplomacy" has failed. Mugabe's abuses have increased, not diminished, with millions at risk of starvation because they are being denied food. Why? They don't get food because they live in regions of the country that voted for the opposition Movement for Democratic Change. I call it political cleansing...The ANC once led a heroic liberation struggle. Now it seems to be turning its back on the ideals of liberation and internationalism...The old rally cry of the ANC is more relevant than ever to Zimbabwe: "Amandla! Awethu!" - Power! To the people!"

Alois Mbawara
October 2006

"Dr Zuma and President Mbeki know that the Zimbabwe government
violates SADC and AU democratic principles. By remaining silent, they tacitly endorse these violations” Alois Mbawara of the Free Zim Youth, as reported in

Thabo Mbeki
October 2006

"I think that there is this general decline in my graph. At the best level I was described as being intolerant, and it wasn't too bad. Then a bit later a dictator - and that too was a drop in the popularity graph. And more recently I am told I am totalitarian, really going down. And if I follow the (advice) of ANC comrades, I am bound to reach the point where I am called a fascist." Mbeki speaking at a South African Communist Party dinner.

RW Johnson
8 October 2006

"Whereas under Mandela, deputy-president Mbeki had largely run the country, it was immediately clear that Mbeki would keep all real power and that Zuma would have a relatively minor role." RW Johnson writing for the London Sunday Times.

Blade Nzimande
8 October 2006

"I differ with (Mbeki's) political overview, both its thrust and its conclusion...this attack trying to seperate the SACP from its general secretary is extremely unfortunate. The reason is that the allies are being used as a scapegoat, as a substitute to dealing with problems in the ANC and the alliance. I would ordinarily have expected that the president would rise above this and seek to provide leadership to the ANC and to the alliance, rather than embark on a course that would only further poison this atmosphere". 8 October 2006

Thabo Mbeki
October 2006

"Contrary to Blade Nzimande's extraordinary arrogance, which leads him openly to despise our movement, the SACP's 2002 constitution lays down an approach towards fraternal organisations whose spirit and intent Nzimande clearly does not respect".

William Saunderson-Meyer
September 2006

"The ANC's decision to gerrymander the mayoral system in order to snatch control of Cape Town, the only city it does not govern, is morally despicable and strategically foolish. If the attempt succeeds, it will have international repercussions, gravely damaging the reputations of President Thabo Mbeki, the ANC, and the country. And for it to happen at the same moment that Mbeki is addressing the 61st session of the United Nations and slating, rightly so, the lack of true democracy in that organisation, is grotesque and hypocritical...That Mbeki is willing to go along with this travesty is an indication of how little power he retains in the twilight of his presidency. Mbeki is in full retreat before disgraced ANC former president Jacob Zuma's ascending star; pandering to every party clique because the political base needed to take a stand is being rapidly erode...All the talks at present is about Zuma and the likely negative effect that his ascendancy will have on foreign perceptions, investment and the currency exchange rate. It may be, however, that it is the moves against Zille that have the more serious implications, since they signal a retreat from democracy and the kind of structural tinkering that precedes a decline into despotic rule".

Thabo Mbeki
September 2006

“Something is indeed wrong when all these poor people try desperately to reach countries where they believe the conditions of their existence would improve, only to meet hostile, and at times barbaric, receptions,” Mbeki addressing the UN

William Saunderson-Meyer
August 2006

"In the case of the African National Congress, the demand from President Thabo Mbeki for unquestioning obedience has resulted in a backlash that threatens to deliver the presidency to the disgraced Jacob Zuma".

Max du Preez
August 2006

"I have always thought Mbeki was the kind of man to whom it was very important what kind of legacy he left behind, how history was going to regard him. He was never an overly power-hungry politician, never a true empire builder; never someone to amass wealth as a reflection of his importance."

Thabo Mbeki
16 August 2006

"Our Transfrontier Parks (TFPs) and Transfrontier Conservation Areas (TFCAs), coupled with the 2010 FIFA World Cup, provide us with a unique opportunity for exceptional growth in the tourism industry", Mbeki speaking in Limpopo at the opening of the Giriyondo Tourist Access Facility that links the Limpopo National Park in Mozambique with the Kruger National Park in South Africa.

Business Day editorial
14 August 2006

"For a man with an almost forensic memory, the continued inability of President Thabo Mbeki to recall whether he ever met with representatives of the French arms company Thales is odd, to say the least."

Max du Preez
14 August 2006

"Thabo Mbeki was known as a charming, engaging, confident leader before 1999, and yet he became an aloof, insecure president. " Max du Preez writing for The Star newspaper.

Moipone Malefane & Wisani wa ka Ngobeni
13 August2006

"Affidavits filed by Zuma's lawyers in the High Court suggest that Mbeki, not Zuma, should be the one asked if there was any corruption in the multibillion-dollar arms-procurement deal." Moipone Malefane & Wisani wa ka Ngobeni writing for the Sunday Time.

12 August2006

"Mbeki has not been caught in flagrante delicte lying, but he has been squirming suspiciously, fudging about being unable 'to recall' such a meeting." William Saunderson-Meyer writing for the Weekend Argus.

Thabo Mbeki
2 June 2006

"Here we go again," Mbeki said under his breath to Jim Goodnight (chief executive of US software giant SAS), as a Kenyan delegate at the World Economic Forum in Cape Town spoke from the floor.

Zwelinzima Vavi
May 2006

"Dictatorship never announces its arrival. It wont, like drum majorettes, beat drums and parade down the streets to announce it has arrived." Zwelinzima Vavi, Congress of SA Trade Unions general-secretary warning that South Africa under President Thabo Mbeki was drifting towards a Zimbabwean-style dictatorship.

Patrick van Rensburg
27 May 2006

"Black economic empowerment is not about uplifting the poor, but enriching the high and mighty, especially people with political clout. I'm not quite sure how it works, and how Cyril Ramaphosa and Tokyo Sexwale became almost billionaires after being politically sidelined by Thabo Mbeki, and how he managed to sideline these politically powerful men - at the time - in the first place".

Thabo Mbeki
September 2003

"Personally, I don't know anybody who has died of Aids. I really, honestly don't".

November 1997

Mbeki's 81-year-old mother is robbed by gunmen at the shop she has run since 1940 in the Eastern Cape.

Thabo Mbeki

"I don't imagine there's any requirement to fill Mr Mandela's shoes. Anyway, he's got very big feet, and I don't think I could grow taller or wear strange shirts."

Thabo Mbeki

"It's an art, handling this relationship between reconciliation and transformation. It's not a mathematical thing. It's going to define South African politics for the next 15 years at least."


Mbeki's son, Monwabisi Mbeki, goes missing between Vereeniging and Durban in 1981 while looking for another Mbeki relative, Phindile Mfeti.


Mbeki leaves South Africa illegally to study at the Sussex University in England.

8 October 1959

Thabo Mbeki's childhood sweetheart, Nokwanda Olive Veliswa Mpahlwa, gives birth to their child, Monwabisi Kwanda Mbeki. The Mbeki family paid for damages after Thabo admitted responsibility. The couple were banned from meeting each other as they had brought shame on our families. Nokwanda had to leave school and was sent to live with relatives in Durban where she gave birth to Kwanda.

18 June 1942

Thabo Mbeki is born in Idutywa, in what used to known as the Transkei.



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