South Africa’s former presidents Thabo Mbeki and Jacob Zuma are expected to be among the guests attending the ANC’s political school launch event at Gallagher Estate in Midrand on Thursday.
School principal and ANC national executive committee member David Masondo told City Press that both Mbeki and his successor, Zuma, have confirmed attendance and were “already allocated seats”.
While Zuma has been a common feature at ANC events including election campaigns, even after the party under President Cyril Ramaphosa fired him as head of state in February last year, Mbeki – who was fired by Zuma in 2008 – has been conspicuously absent from most party events.
Ramaphosa, the party’s leader and the country’s president, is scheduled to deliver the keynote address.
A total of 25 high profile guests have also been confirmed to attend, said Masondo, including 10 representatives of political parties from the continent – Zimbabwe’s Zanu-PF, Kenya’s Jubilee Party, Mozambique’s Frelimo, Botswana’s Botswana Democratic Party and Lesotho’s Basotho National Party.
The remainder of the guest list names 15 ambassadors and representatives from Norway, Zimbabwe, Cuba, China, Venezuela, Kenya, Angola, Ethiopia, Vietnam and Algeria.
The ANC is making a concerted effort at restoring its tarnished image by finally setting in motion the long-planned renewal project under Masondo’s stewardship.
The party has long toyed with the idea of setting up a political school, going so far as to appoint former president Kgalema Motlanthe to head the project, but it continued to falter.
Initially, the focus was on attempts by NEC members Tony Yengeni and later, Nathi Mthethwa, to acquire a building for this purpose, but it never materialised.
The ANC’s Gauteng branches have already led the pack by setting up the Walter Sisulu Leadership Academy and producing some graduates.