[DEBATE] : (Fwd) Mbeki "useful" to divided Zumites
pbond at mail.ngo.za
Sun May 18 06:09:48 BST 2008
17/05/2008 16:57 - (SA)
Mbeki the unifier
PRESIDENT Thabo Mbeki can relax. Bopha iphondo Zizi. His job is safe. He
will not be removed from the presidency before serving his full term,
despite a growing threat to do so by some in the ruling ANC.
Those baying for his blood actually need him to remain in office to
serve his term in full. He is the glue that keeps the pro-Zuma lobby
together. He is the punching bag on which many in the Zuma camp release
As the country’s president he is useful to the Zuma camp. As an ordinary
citizen he is totally unhelpful to this group.
So he can be abused, insulted, called names, threatened with premature
removal from office if he does not listen to the ANC bosses – but the
reality is that it is important for Mbeki to remain in the Union
Buildings. There are several reasons for this. The first is the tension
that would be created by the succession process that would follow his
Zuma, the ANC president who was anointed by the party’s delegates in
Polokwane to become the next president of the country, is currently not
a member of Parliament. Currently, a president has to be elected by
So if Mbeki were removed as president, the person most likely to succeed
him would be Kgalema Motlanthe, the party’s deputy president, who is
expected to be sworn in as an MP soon.
If Motlanthe were to become regent president and warm the presidential
seat for Zuma, this might create its own problems.
He might get used to the position and suffer the same fate suffered by
other regents. After all, power is sweet. It is addictive. It is not
difficult to adjust to being the master of all that one surveys.
As president Motlanthe would have to face the wrath of his allies in
Cosatu and the SACP, who are complaining about a range of issues. These
include the electricity crisis, skyrocketing food prices, the price of
petrol, high interest rates and high inflation.
Currently Mbeki can be blamed for everything from Zimbabwe, the SABC
controversy and crime to unemployment. Mbeki is used like shoe polish.
He is used to make Zuma shine.
Ordinary citizens are tired of crime. While Mbeki would offer complex
analysis of the situation and conclude that the underlying causes of
crime such as poverty should be addressed, Zuma will simply say the
government ought to be tough on criminals, implying that it is soft.
On Zimbabwe, Mbeki, operating with the final objective in mind, would
avoid antagonising the protagonists and be diplomatic. Zuma will just be
blunt and condemn the crisis in Zimbabwe.
But with Motlanthe at the helm the Zuma camp will not have the luxury of
issuing strong statements but will be required to find solutions, even
The ANC from Luthuli House would not be able to play the role of an
opposition party. It would have to take responsibility for the
government’s many failures.
Motlanthe would not be able to magically solve all of the country’s
complex problems. What could he do to resolve the electricity crisis,
The other dilemma that a Motlanthe regency would pose is a shift of loyalty.
Presently many ANC leaders want to be seen as die-hard Zuma loyalists.
They are prepared to carry his cross to the court where he will face
If Motlanthe were to be president they might adjust their loyalties –
politicians know on which side their bread is buttered.
While Motlanthe may seem the obvious choice to replace Mbeki, if the
opportunity to fill the presidency were to arise there is no doubt that
other pretenders to the throne would emerge. The anti-Mbeki coalition
It is the biggest paradox that the Zuma camp’s Enemy Number One, Mbeki,
is the force that keeps the coalition together.
There is unity in disliking him. He is the common factor that brings
warring factions together. Zizi can relax. Phola.
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