South African President Thabo Mbeki has lamented as "particularly disturbing" the spread of corruption in his governing African National Congress (ANC) in a message released on Friday.
Writing in his weekly newsletter, Mbeki said "it is now patently clear that a significant number of our people seem to have come to the conclusion that the liberty we achieved in 1994 at great cost in human lives, affords them the freedom to engage in corrupt practice, illegally to enrich themselves by stealing from the public and corporate shareholders."
"Particularly disturbing in this regard is the phenomenon that is manifesting itself within our movement, of some people abusing membership of the organizations of the people, including the ANC, as a stepladder to positions of power, power they would then use corruptly to accumulate riches for themselves rather than serve the people of South Africa," he wrote.
Mbeki's comments came less than three weeks before his axed deputy Jacob Zuma, who remains ANC deputy president, is to go on trial in Durban for corruption.
Zuma has been charged with two counts of corruption, including one of accepting a bribe to use his influence to stop an investigation into a 1999 arms deal to buy aircraft, ships and submarines.
Mbeki fired the popular Zuma in June, sparking a crisis within the ANC over the decision, which supporters of the former No. 2 say was aimed at blocking his path to the presidency.
Mbeki is due to step down from the presidency in 2009 after two terms in office.
The ANC led the struggle against apartheid in South Africa before sweeping to power in 1994 in the first multi-racial elections, which saw Nelson Mandela become the country's first democratically elected president.