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 have announced they they are now officially discussing who they will be supporting as the next leader of the ANC. This comes with reports that COSATU and the SACP are putting pressure on the ANC to shift it’s policies more to the left.
What still makes me shake my head over this is why if they’re trying to move to the ANC to the left then why COSATU Secretary General Zwelinzima Vavi continue to believe that Zuma is someone who “relates to us”. Zuma is possibly one of the most conservative politicians in the ANC. During his tenure as VP Zuma never uttered a word out of line with Mbeki’s centrist policy (as was to be expected really) but since he got the boot he’s been all over the place depending on his audience.
Put him in front of a COSATU crowd and he’s decrying current government policy on AIDS (no mention of his role as head of the National AIDS Council), put him in front of a church congregation and he’s spouting off oun our nations lack of biblical values (sure to impress those atheists over at the SACP), put him in Steve Hofmeyer’s backyard and he’s humming the tune to ‘De La Rey’ with Leon Schuster.
So is he a canny populist. Yes I’d say so. Is he the saviour of the left? Not a chance. The COSATU Central Executive Committee meeting to discuss who they will back at the ANC NEC elections take place next month. Let’s see if they agree.
The latest reports in the media seem to indicate that COSATU is getting nervous backing Jacob Zuma and may look to be throwing their weight behind someone else who is not Thabo Mbeki. We’ve seen this happen before with COSATU when Zuma was embroiled in his rape trial COSATU were scrambling to find a suitable replacement should he be convicted. When his original corruption trial was struck off the court roll it looked like COSATU (or at least COSATU Secretary General Zwelinzima Vavi) were betting all their chip on Zuma.
However with the NPA making it clear that they fully intend to re-prosecute Zuma on corruption charges and with their being a good chance that the trial will take place during the ANC NEC elections it might be a good idea to look for another candidate to put their weight behind. The name brought up again as a possible COSATU backed candidate is ANC Secretary General Kgalema Motlanthe. He was mentioned as a possible Zuma replacement back during the rape trial as well.Update: Cosatu scorns Sunday Times’s Zuma report
There is no truth in media reports that Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) leaders have “dropped” their support for Jacob Zuma as a candidate for the African National Congress (ANC) presidency, the union federation said on Sunday.
Public Enterprises Minister Alec Erwin took time out of his schedule shovelling tax payer money into SAA to appear on the BBC’s Hard Talk where he made it clear he won’t be voting for Zuma at the upcoming ANC NEC elections.
Q: Do you think Jacob Zuma, a man whose behaviour both towards women and in terms of his financial probity has been under close scrutiny over the last couple of years, do you believe he is a man who could credibly lead South Africa?
A:I think, on Jacob Zuma’s record, I think that he will have great difficulty winning this election in the ANC.
Schabir Shaik’s appeal to the Supreme Court has been denied, sending him to prison for 15 years (he’ll be out a lot sooner though). Which means that the case against Jacob Zuma that was struck off the court roll can now be re-entered.The Supreme Court of Appeal even went so far as to confirm the conviction that was originally handed down to Shaik:
We find a wealth of evidence to show that the friendship [between Shaik and Zuma], which we accept exists, was persistently and aggressively exploited by Mr Shaik for his own and his group’s advantage.
The only reasonable inference is that the payments were corruptly made to influence Mr Zuma to act in conflict with his constitutional duties…
The ball is now back in the NPA’s court.
I just received this bit of scam email in my inbox not five minutes ago.
I am wife of Sacked Deputy President of South Africa, Mr. Jacob Zuma.
It is out of desperation that I am sending you this mail. My Husband and I need your assistance in fronting for us as owner of funds that are his which might come under investigation soon if the fund’s ownership is not changed soonest. As my Husband’s finances are increasingly becoming the source of investigation by our distractors.
The source of these fund’s which my Husband earnings would not validate, will further sink him into the cesspool dug by our enemies.
It is because of the dire strait we find ourselves that we resolved to reach you and ask for your assistance in this matter.
We are averse to letting those we know here into this deal because we are no longer sure of who our friends are. You will be handsomely rewarded if you choose to help us partnerhip in this project. I will be expecting to hear from you and will disclose further details to you upon your response. Do well not to disclose the contents of this mail to anyone.
It’s got to be tough continually being under investigation by ‘distractors’. I mean how can you concentrate while you’re watching the latest episode of Generations when a bunch of distractors are jumping around in the living room. Damn distractors!
Cosatu’s unquestioning support, however, deserves scrutiny. The hard and undeniable fact is that Zuma has never offered support to Cosatu on any major policy issue—not on HIV/Aids, the Zimbabwe debacle, macroeconomic policy, the fight against the neoliberal restructuring of the public sector or privatisation. Where was this “friend of the people” during those hard days? Not only was he silent in the often heated clashes between Cosatu and the government, but as the second-most senior leader of the ANC and government, he took major responsibility for those policies and their negative effects, including massive job losses.
We’ve discussed this before because it seems there’s a disconnect here and I have the feeling both sides are trying to take advantage of the other, or perhaps they are both in an understanding of some sort where both parties try to come out on top. COSATU have decided that they want ‘anyone but Mbeki’ in power and have chosen Zuma as their man because he enjoys some popular support and I would hazard to guess they believe he will be easily influenced to carry out their policies. Zuma has implicitly welcomed their support because it will help him get back in office, although it is unclear if he ever intends to return their favours.
When he’s not having unprotected sex with an HIV positive woman, he’s getting ready for a bit of gay bashing.