[DEBATE] : IOL on Zuma victory
grinker at mweb.co.za
Wed Dec 19 06:31:28 GMT 2007
Turning point for SA as Zuma takes over ANC
December 19 2007 at 06:41AM
By Deon de Lange, Moshoeshoe Monare and Janet Smith
Jacob Zuma has been catapulted to the presidency of the ANC despite still
being mired in the controversy of corruption charges, not long since
dismissed from the cabinet, acquitted of rape and persecuted by his own
On Tuesday night the marquee in Polokwane exploded with jubilation when
electoral agency chairperson Dren Nupen announced that Zuma had won by 824
He polled 2 329 votes to President Thabo Mbeki's 1 505.
'Now is not the time to talk'
Delegates could not be quietened amid fireworks around the university campus
as Zuma entered, wearing a brown leather jacket and white cap.
He was followed by Mbeki, who hugged him and smiled.
Asked for comment shortly after his defeat, Mbeki said: "Now is not the time
Minister in the Presidency and Mbeki's right-hand man, Essop Pahad, said:
"We have a new leadership, and the leadership must lead."
Embattled former transport minister Mac Maharaj said the people had spoken
and they wanted change.
He did not believe there would be a purge and said the party would now close
The succession was described by Mbeki's mother Epainette as more an
obsession about personality than a process.
Zuma's victory signifies a cry for change in the 96-year-old movement, whose
members rejected a serving president determined to hold on to power at all
Unless the corruption charges come back to haunt him, Zuma is likely to
become president of South Africa in 18 months.
New ANC deputy president Kgalema Motlanthe admitted the "never-ending agony"
of Zuma's legal battles would put the ANC in a very difficult position.
Asked what would happen if Zuma were charged, he said the ANC membership
would have to "live with it" and "cross that bridge when they get to it".
Motlanthe criticised the way in which the National Prosecuting Authority had
pursued its case against Zuma, describing repeated announcements about the
intention to charge him as "strange".
"If someone is charged we should get no forewarning or prior announcement
"The person should be arrested and charged, simple. Then we don't have to
Zuma's victory marks a turning point in the country's political trajectory
and a drastic regime-change in the ruling ANC.
Despite his earlier assurance that little would change in ANC policy under
his watch, it is widely expected that management style will indeed change,
as will the thrust and attitude to policy.
In recent weeks, Zuma's detractors fuelled broad perception that under his
leadership the country was doomed to fail and that the South African dream
was about to unravel.
But Zuma stood tall and travelled the length and breadth of the country, and
to a number of other countries, in a bid to allay concerns.
His leadership capability was a subject of mockery, especially after his
financial and sexual deportments were exposed during the trial of his
financial adviser, Schabir Shaik, and his own rape trial.
His eccentric comments during the rape trial - that a shower could minimise
chances of contracting the HIV virus - led to the clergy and others
questioning his moral standing.
The overly stretched attempt to charge him with corruption relating to the
arms deal further tainted his splotchy image.
However, the deeper he was entangled in the legal quagmire, the greater his
popularity - especially among the unions and working class.
The election outcome last night reflected Zuma's working-class upbringing,
which he exploited to connect with members who felt detached from their
Unlike Mbeki, Zuma has risen through the ranks without family connection,
becoming part of the ANC's second-highest decision-making body 30 years ago.
He was elected to the ANC's top six position as deputy secretary-general
before Mbeki's co-option into the party's powerful but unconstitutional
He was later chairperson of the party and ultimately deputy president 10
At that stage he was still a close friend of Mbeki's, until something -
which has never been disclosed - slashed that comradely cord, triggering a
bitter succession that has now seen Mbeki's downfall.
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