Saturday, June 30, 2007

Out of Africa II

The annual African National Congress meeting is taking place at Gallagher Estate outside Johannesburg. There are several issues of interest.

Firstly is the thorny subject of succession. Current South African President and leader of the ANC, Thabo Mbeki, is constitutionally bound to step down as President at the end of this election cycle.

His erstwhile deputy, Jacob Zuma, is positioning himself to stand for President. Recently Zuma has been acquitted on a messy rape charge and is currently being investigated on charges of accepting a bribe. Zuma is a populist choice but is a huge threat to business as he supports the idea of nationalisation of banks, mining, etc.

Mbeki and his supporters have made suggestions of the need to alter the constitution so that he can stand for a third term.

Of more interest is the second issue. Currently the ANC govern with a huge majority. This is because it is a tripartite alliance between them, the South African Communist Party (SACP) and the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU). At the ANC meeting, the SACP representatives have been suggesting that it is time to go on their own as many of their policies are ignored by the government, whilst the ANC (Mbeki) have said that they, the ANC, are not a Communist party and will continue pursuing a capitalist agenda.

This is all happening against the background of a large, prolonged and messy Public Service strike for increased wages which has all but paralysed government.

The tripartite alliance is on shaky ground.

Democratic governments are really as good as there opposition allows them to be. For any government to remain unchallenged is the foundation for for poor governance, corruption and plain old incompetence. Strengthening opposition to a sitting government will keep them honest.

There is a pre-existing example of this in South Africa. During PW Botha's reign, when he wanted to start change, the Afrikaans community became divided between the 'verligtes' (enlightened) and the 'verkramptes' (narrow minded), and this eventually lead to weakening of the National Party Government as a separate Afrikaans party was formed, the Herstigte Nationaal Party. This marked the beginning of the end of Apartheid.

1 comment:

MK said...

So Mbeki is angling for a third run at the leadership, what is it about these African leaders and letting go?

Then again if nationalization and socialism is the alternative..