Tag Archives: president Mbeki

Where Oh Where Is President Mbeki??

South African President Thabo Mbeki who has been attacked for his lack of leadership in dealing with the anti-foreign riots which have swept his nation, is now being forced to confront questions about present handling the crisis. Two weeks have passed during which time rioters have attacked immigrants, burned their shacks, and, in some cases, killed these innocent people, but the president of the nation apparently has other things to do than visit scenes of the violence and offer reassurance to the afflicted. According to Olmo von Meijenfeldt, of the Institute for Democracy in South Africa, “a strong appeal to the South African people from the president would be very welcome indeed.”‘ He noted Mbeki has a distant style of leadership, and he is not the sort of man “to put himself in the forefront.”

Intelligence Minister Ronnie Kasrils admitted the government knew tensions were growing. “Of course we were aware there was something brewing. It is one thing to know there is a social probelm and another thing to know when that outburst will occur.” Of course, it was no secret there were tensions over foreigners getting jobs in a nation which has extensive poverty, but that was even more cause to take proactive measures to head off the problem.

Moesties Mbeki, the president’s own brother believes “the current government has lost its credibility.” His brother failed to exert leadership during the ongoing crisis in Zimbabwe and his comment that no crisis existed made him the laughing stock of Africa.

The African National Congress leader Jacob Zuma will most probably become the next president of South Africa. Unless he initiates vast programs to deal with poverty, there will be other riots in the coming years.

Jacob Zuma Gains African National Congress Leadership

A tumultuous African National Congress which witnessed heated arguments between supporters of outgoing President Mbeki and his rival for power, Jacob Zuma, concluded with the election of Zuma into the role of head of the African National Congress. Since the ANC is the dominant political party in South Africa, it is almost automatic that whoever it selects to be its leader will also become president of South Africa. Mbeki expressed his concerns about the character of Zuma who he believes has the potential to encourage corruption as well as many charges regarding his sexual misconduct. Zuma ran on a populist platform that promised to redress needs of those in poverty who feel left out of South Africa’s booming economy. He had strong support from trade unions and those on the political left. helen Zille, head of the opposition Democratic Alliance expressed fears that Zuma will undo the constitutional government that has evolved in South Africa and which has avoided conflict between those of African and those of white European backgrounds. She fears that Jacob Zuma has less commitment to such constitutional guarantees as freedom of the press and speech. It was notable during the ANC convention that many members of the media clashed with security guards whom they believed were trying to halt their right to report.

South Africa is Africa’s leading democratic nation and one which smoothly made the transition from being a nation controlled by whites to one in which black skinned people are the majority, but they also ensure equal rights to whites. Jacob Zuma’s reputation indicates he may not have that strong a commitment to a society based on equal rights for all. His rhetoric of populism and promises of redressing inequality can serve as a springboard for real reforms or it can be used as a springboard to stifle those of European background and cause them to leave the nation. A departure of whites would create economic chaos in South Africa since it would frighten world businessmen and make it difficult for a South African government to obtain needed financial support from the world’s banking community.

Winnie Madikzela Mandela Offers Compromise Solution

Controversial African National Congress veteran, Winnie Madikizela Mandela suggested a compromise solution to resolve the current impasse between President Mbeki and Deputy President Jacob Zuma who are vying for leadership of the ANC. She decried the extensive name-calling and growing bitterness between the two men which she believed would be destructive of the African National Congress as an institution. Her compromise proposal included:
1. Both men would retain their present positions of leadership of the ANC,
2. Jacob Zuma would receive ANC support in his bid for the presidency of South Africa.
3. “A solution would be found for the legal difficulties that confront the deputy president.”
4. A gender equity solution would be found to ensure equal rights for women in leadership.
5. Leadership of ANC would contain a diversity of viewpoints.

Ms. Mandela’s solution has several key points such as seeking equal rights for women, but one can not readily dismiss “legal difficulties” with a wave of the hand. If Jacob Zuma has legal difficulties they are best resolved in a court of law, not through manipulation of the legal system.