Epainette Mbeki, the mother of ousted former president Thabo Mbeki, has described plans of a new party as a “first-class idea”.

The African National Congress’ biggest mistake has been to partner with the SA Communist Party and the Congress of SA Trade Unions, she added.

“The party is not the ANC we used to know where people like Oliver Tambo and many other struggle heroes fought. I really do not know what they would say now,” she told the Daily Dispatch newspaper in an interview published on Thursday.

Asked to comment on the possibility of former defence minister Mosiuoa Lekota starting a breakaway party, she replied: “It is a first-class idea”.

“The sooner Lekota tells us about his plans, the better, so that people can start to make their own decisions on this matter,” said Mrs Mbeki, who has earlier said she would consider joining a new party.

The 92-year-old struggle veteran – who is often called ‘Ma Mbeki’ by fellow South Africans – said she listened to Lekota on radio on Wednesday when he said the new ANC leaders were promoting tribalism in the party.

“I will not say that they are promoting tribalism, but what I see are the low levels of political development,” said Mrs Mbeki, who has served the ANC for 60 years.

She said the formation of the tripartite alliance between the ANC, SACP and Cosatu was a mistake. “This brings other influences to the party and it is clear that it [the ANC] is no longer independent.”