Former president Thabo Mbeki weighed in on this week’s Democratic Alliance (DA) leadership crisis, saying all parties had ‘an absolute obligation’ to contribute to the ‘national effort to make ours a non-racial country’.

Mbeki expressed his sentiments in a statement issued by the Thabo Mbeki Foundation.

The former president said: ‘I have understood from the statements made by the various leaders of the Democratic Alliance, including Mr Mmusi Maimane, that the current developments within the DA have to do with the continuing challenge of racism in our country.

‘In this context, I wish to emphasise that, consistent with our Constitution, all our registered political formations have an absolute obligation practically to contribute to the national effort to make ours a non-racial country.’

He said it ‘would be a matter of the greatest concern if it were in fact true that our country’s Official Opposition, the DA, is going through a leadership crisis because of a hegemonic ascendance of a racist tendency which seeks to assert policies to that end, thus to sustain colonial and apartheid social relations’.

South Africans would ‘gain absolutely nothing from any negative movement in any of our political parties towards policies based on racism’.

Mbeki said the DA ‘has an imperative obligation to reassure the nation, practically, unequivocally and transparently, that it is conducting and will conduct itself in terms of all its internal and public policies and programmes in a manner which truly helps to transform South Africa into a non-racial country’.

He added: ‘This is an obligation which binds all the political parties which serve within our legislatures, without exception.’

The former president said: ‘Those who organise and act to frustrate the realisation of the goals detailed in our Constitution must understand that thereby they commit a criminal act against both the ordinary people in our country and the post-apartheid legal order which has sought to defend the interests of all our people without regard to race, class, gender, sexual orientation or creed!’

The IRR pointed out that the irony of Mbeki’s statement is that his own party, the African National Congress (ANC), continues to use apartheid-era racial classification in its legislative efforts at social engineering in South Africa.