News and Information
Tutu and Mbeki in war of words
|November 29, 2004
| The week-long row between South African President Thabo Mbeki and Nobel Peace Prize Winner Archbishop Desmond Tutu has taken a turn for the worse.
In the latest twist, the archbishop has released a sarcastic statement thanking the president for calling him a liar.
He said he would pray for Mr Mbeki - as he had done for the apartheid regime.
The president was angered when Archbishop Tutu said that political "kowtowing" within the ruling ANC was hampering democracy.
Mr Mbeki hit back on Friday in his weekly online column for the ANC, saying the archbishop had never been a member of the party and had "very little knowledge" of how the ANC worked.
The BBC's Barnaby Phillips in South Africa says that the extraordinary row has seen perhaps the most bitter arguments between back leaders since the end of apartheid 10 years ago.
"Thank you Mr President for telling me what you think of me," Archbishop Tutu said in a statement.
"That I am a liar with scant regard for the truth and a charlatan posing with his concern for the poor, the hungry, the oppressed and the voiceless.
Mr Mbeki had accused the archbishop of resorting to "empty rhetoric".
Too many of our people live in gruelling, demeaning, dehumanising poverty. We are sitting on a powder keg
Archbishop Tutu, 23 November
It would be good if those that present themselves as the greatest defenders of the poor should also demonstrate decent respect for the truth
President Mbeki, 26 November
I will continue to pray for you and your government by name daily as I have done and as I did even for the apartheid government
Archbishop Tutu, 29 November
Profile: Desmond Tutu
Profile: Thabo Mbeki
"It would be good if those that present themselves as the greatest defenders of the poor should also demonstrate decent respect for the truth," he said.
The archbishop, who won the 1984 Nobel Peace prize for his part in the struggle against apartheid, started the row by saying that the government's policy of black empowerment was only benefiting "a small elite that tends to be recycled".
"At the moment many, too many, of our people live in gruelling, demeaning, dehumanising poverty. We are sitting on a powder keg," he said at the Nelson Mandela annual lecture in Johannesburg last Tuesday.
He also raised concerns about President Mbeki's policies on Aids and the crisis in Zimbabwe.
The trade union movement, Cosatu, which is allied to the ANC, but unhappy with many aspects of government policy leapt to the archbishop's defence only to receive its own sharp rebuke.
Last month, Mr Mbeki used his weekly online column to criticise a high-profile anti-rape campaigner.
In May, Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe called Archbishop Tutu "an angry, evil and embittered little bishop" after the Nobel Peace Prize winner likened Mr Mugabe to an archetypal African dictator.
| Support Caprivi Freedom
Fill out the form below to become a member of this site and receive our regular newsletter.