The ANC National Conference is in progress at Polokwane at which they will elect their next leader. This will determine who the next President of South Africa will be. In the run up to these elections many names have been mentioned as possible contenders. Unfortunately the most able, especially Cyril Ramaphosa, seem to have fallen out of contention.
Two remain - Thabo Mbeki and Jacob Zuma.
If Thabo Mbeki, incumbent President and leader of the party wins, although constitutionally he is not allowed to hold the Office of President of South Africa for a third term, he will essentially be able to name the next President (or even alter the Constitution to allow himself to stay on).
If Jacob Zuma wins he will be the next President.
The editorial from The Sunday Times has this to say about the two men :-
Mbeki has, as his advocates repeatedly proclaim, achieved impressive economic stability. Interest rates and inflation are down from the dangerous levels inherited in 1994 to well within global norms; economic growth is up from under 3% to above 5%; sustainable programmes have been put in place to give apartheid’s forgotten masses homes, water, electricity, schools and clinics.
But rising interest rates and inflation now threaten even that modest growth. Incompetence and corruption are undermining the delivery programmes of the democratic era. Taps are drying up, schools don’t produce functional graduates, the housing backlog is growing, the lights are going off, clinics remain locked, understaffed or short of medicines, and hospital standards are a disgrace.
Mbeki’s theoretical approach to the challenges of HIV/Aids, crime, Zimbabwe and global human rights has ignored their human contexts and alienated communities at home and abroad.
Zuma offers no alternative. His main campaign plank has been to promise more of the same and throw in some demagoguery here and there. As bankrupt of vision as he is of morals, he has travelled the world touting his lack of ideas as a virtue.
His promise to listen to advisers more schooled than himself is undermined by his record. He surrendered his affairs and his good name to a brotherhood of charlatans, at least one of whom has been proved corrupt.
His record as deputy president of the country is dismal. The South African National Aids Council virtually collapsed under his management, the Moral Regeneration Campaign languished and his stewardship of a plan to grow the “second economy” was made ridiculous when he fumbled questions about basic economic terminology.
He was found not guilty of raping a young family friend, but received a tongue lashing from a judge appalled by his personal values.
Zuma has the backing of COSATU, the massively powerful trade union movement; the SACP, although he has said he will not implement their Marxist policies immediately; and more recently the ANC Women's League which is in the hands of the odious Winnie Mandela.
Mbeki has his cronies and the beneficiaries of his largess to support him.
Either way South Africa will be the loser. At a time when the ANC could have stepped up and shown that they are more than a liberation movement, that African demagoguery is a thing of the past, that corruption and incompetence is unacceptable, and that South Africa can be the leader in a true African renaissance untouched by the scourge of corrupt, criminal leaders; they have failed miserably and unfortunately have joined the long list of African political failures.
"Cry, the beloved country, for the unborn child that is the inheritor of our fear." - Alan Paton "Cry,the Beloved Country".