Here are the only two government press releases for today, which basically sums up the state of the nation at the moment.
01 Jan 2008 National Prosecuting Authority on prosecution of J Zuma: The National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) has reached the decision to prosecute Mr Jacob Zuma, Thint Holdings (Southern Africa) (Pty) Ltd and Thint (Pty) Ltd, after careful consideration of the facts and evidence. This decision was further reinforced by th…
31 Dec 2007 T Mbeki New Year message: Let us begin the New Year committed to the objective of national unity, with renewed confidence in our collective strength to ensure that our democracy will continue to serve all our citizens, determined to accelerate our progress towards the realisation …
This was not how it was supposed to end for Thabo Mbeki. The Mbeki legacy, which he had hoped would be built on his championing of Africa and Africans, will be all but forgotten and instead his failures in Zimbabwe, in AIDS policy and now his loss to Jacob Zuma will be permanently etched in the history books. Instead of overseeing a smooth transition to his handpicked successor, he will weather the next 18 months as a lame duck president unable to produce any legislation without phoning up Luthuli House first for approval.
I still contend that much of the voting sentiment was not a vote for Zuma in as much as it was a vote against Mbeki. Even I am extremely uncomfortable with the two centres of power that would have emerged had Mbeki retained the ANC chair during the reign of whoever would have succeeded him as state president. Considering the fear of the chattering classes of a “President-For-Life” one would think that they would be overjoyed with Mbeki being shown the door.
The thinking of some of Zuma’s voters can be illustrated by the following quotes from one Maria Mabaso:
Maria Mabaso of KwaZulu-Natal, smiling broadly and cheering, told the Mail & Guardian Online: “I’m so happy. Everything is going to change because Zuma cares about the people.”
I’m afraid Maria might be a bit disappointed in the future. Who cannot recall the exact same sentiment in 1994 and again in 1999 and 2004. “Everything is going to change”. That has been the ANC’s unofficial election logo since the first democratic elections. I’m sure Maria has said that before and been let down. And I feel she will be disappointed again. There’s little evidence to say that Zuma “cares about the people” when up until two years ago he was part of Mbeki’s inner circle since 1999 until their falling out in 2005.
So what now for Mbeki? If I were in his position, I would dismiss every nonperforming cabinet minister as soon as possible. It must be obvious to him now that they have failed him and failed him spectacularly. Ministries such as Health (especially Health), Education, Safety and Security, Public Enterprises, Home Affairs and Communications have been in a complete shambles the past few years and delivery has slowed every year and yet Mbeki has doggedly protected these ministers instead of kicking them to the curb. That strategy has backfired on him and he must realise that if these ministers had produced the goods in the preceding 5 years then his position would be unassailable.
That being said, the blame for Mbeki’s loss lays squarely at the feet of Mbeki himself. He has forced out of politics some worthy successors who previously seemed like they could challenge his power (Cyril Ramaphosa, Tokyo Sexwale) and his insistence in standing for a third term as ANC president only seemed to push more people over to voting for Zuma.
COSATU (well, at least its Secretary-General, Zwelinzima Vavi) has been pretty outspoken about its support for Zuma, and yet Zuma’s proposed second-in-command, current ANC Secretary-General, Kgalema Motlanthe, is not too sure about the future of the tri-partite alliance.
Motlanthe asked candid questions about the relevance of the tripartite alliance in the context of divergent political, ideological and economic values among the stakeholders in the current climate.
Now, should Zuma win, does COSATU believe the rifts in the tri-partite alliance will magically heal? Considering the whole Zuma/Mbeki fight goes all the way back to Operation Vula in the early ‘90s, I’m not so sure.
I don’t think there’s been an election in this country (at least since 1994) where I hoped that both candidates lose.
Considering the massive uproar over a loose bolt in Koeberg’s nuclear reactor, I’m suprised there isn’t complete outrage that a bunch of thieves managed to force their way into the control room at SA’s other nuclear facility at Pelindaba. Now, while nothing catastrophic could have happened (when people hear ‘nuclear’ they immediately picture a mushroom cloud rising over Pretoria) the fact is that Pelindaba should be locked down extremely tight.
A day after Minister of Sport and Recreation Makhenkesi Stofile said that racial quotas would be scrapped for sports teams, President Mbeki has confirmed it, racial quotas for sport are no more.
Consider that not even 5 months ago SARU Deputy President Mike Stofile (Makhenkesi’s brother) was calling for quotas to ensure that at least 7 black players (excluding coloured players) were in every Springbok starting side.
This is quite a big turnaround, I guess having a team being able to focus on winning without constant (and often incompetent) administrators intervening to get the right ‘balance’ is a better incentive to get people to play the game. It’s also seems to be a reluctant confession that so far government’s transformation plans for sport have not produced the goods.
ID leader Patricia De Lille has thankfully gone back to doing what she does best, raising a stink about our multi-billion Rand arms deal.
The allegation that the Nelson Mandela Children’s Fund was on the receiving end of dirty cash of course has everyone’s moral indignation meter turned up to eleven. Minister of Defence (and ANC Chairman) Mosiuoa Lekota was suitably outraged:
I can now confirm that on the 29th of January 1999 the following organisations each received R500 000 from [German arms manufacturer] Thyssen-Krupp – African National Congress, Nelson Mandela Children’s Fund, Community Development Foundation.
Is [she] saying… that Comrade Nelson Mandela, the former president of this country, was a crook that wanted to steal money through the strategic defence package? Because if that is what she is saying, she must get out of this House and say it there.
I’m just wondering if donating to various charities has become a ‘tribute’ that is needed to be paid to prove that you’re willing to spend the big bucks later on. For instance wasn’t the “anonymous” donors behind the statue of Nelson Mandela in the (appropriately titled) Nelson Mandela Square in Sandton revealed (in Noseweek if I remember correctly) to be the consortium behind the Gripen fighters?
The Nelson Mandela Children’s Fund has withdrawn support for the Nelson Mandela Invitational Golf Tournament hosted by Gary Player, due to Player’s golf course design firm having built a course in Burma. The tournament will also have to drop ‘Nelson Mandela’ from the tournament title.
But what about more concrete actions that help the Burmese junta stay in power. Actions such as international trade. Well according to the Department of Foreign Affairs:
South Africa mostly exports base metals, chemical products, prepared foodstuffs and mineral products to Myanmar and imports mostly footwear, headgear, vegetable products and machinery from Myanmar.
And what about actions on the global diplomatic stage? On that front SA joined Russia and China in opposing a UN Security Council vote condemning the Burmese government’s long and varied list of human rights abuses.
Perhaps that the Nelson Mandela Children’s Fund will allow the tournament to go ahead with the stipulation that it is hosted in another country who does not trade with Burma.
Past cabinet minister and current ANC NEC member Kader Asmal has come out quit openly in his support for Cyril Ramaphosa:
Meanwhile, amid calls for a “new generation” of leaders, Asmal said he hoped “a thousand” more ANC branches would nominate Ramaphosa for the party’s presidency.
Explaining his nomination last week by the Gaby Shapiro branch in Rondebosch – which has five cabinet ministers as members – the former education minister said Ramaphosa was the perfect candidate for the job.
“He’s got the quality of leadership we need,” said Asmal.
I’m not sure if Asmal’s opinions are any indication of what the current thoughts are in the Mbeki camp. Mbeki and Ramaphosa were rivals before Mbeki came to power in 1997, an event that led to Ramaphosa quitting active politics (but not his position on the ANC NEC).
Meanwhile ANC Youth League leader Fikile Mbalula warned possible candidate Tokyo Sexwale:
Because you have money, you think you can buy everyone with a heartbeat who can pronounce your name
Doesn’t Sexwale know that if you want to buy off the ANCYL your surname has to be ‘Kebble’?