Il Congresso del partito al potere ha incoronato, come previsto, Jacob Zuma, che succede all'ormai largamente impopolare Thabo Mbeki.
Zuma è una personalità controversa: generalmente visto come il rappresentante dell'"ala sinistra" dell'ANC, è distante ann luce dalla personalità da "re filosofo" di Mbeki, di cui non ha la preparazione accademica. E' però un uomo che sa parlare al popolo e che promette di far tornare l'ANC un partito della gente, con una maggiore attenzione alle problematiche sociali che Mbeki è accusato di ignorare. Anche sotto questo punto di vista, però, Zuma non è esente da ambiguità: durante un processo per violenza sessuale, ha ammesso di aver avuto un rapporto con la ragazza che lo accusava, aggiungendo di essersi fatto una doccia immediatamente dopo il rapporto al fine di minimizzare i rischi di contagio da HIV, essendo consapevole che la giovane era sieropositiva. Il nuovo segretario dell'ANC è inoltre coinvolto in un processo per corruzione.
Visto che il Sudafrica è il Paese più importante dell'Africa sub-sahariana, mi sembra importante approfondire il tema. A tal fine riporto tre articoli:
Implications of a Zuma presidency
By Allister Sparks
Now that Jacob Zuma is the clear front-runner to become president of the ANC
next month,the only questions that remain are how peacefully
or disruptively the succession process will unfold, whether he will be
charged with corruption and fraud before or after the Polokwane
conference, or maybe not at all, and what the implications would be of
Zuma becoming President of South Africa in 2009.
Ironically, the answers to these questions will depend largely on how
President Thabo Mbeki plays his hand over the next three weeks.
There are still those in the Mbeki camp who argue that intense
lobbying could turn the vote around before the ANC's national
conference, which is scheduled to run from December 16 to 20. They are
deluding themselves. It is true that last weekend's nomination process
showed that Mbeki had won four of the nine provinces and Zuma the
other five. But the actual voting in the provinces shows that Mbeki's
provinces were all marginal while Zuma's were landslides, with the
result that Zuma came away with 61% of the provincial votes to Mbeki's
Voting at the national conference is likely to reflect the same
percentages, for the same branch delegates from around the country
will be there. Votes from the Youth League, the Women's League and the
National Executive Committee may make a small difference, but nowhere
near enough to close that gap.
And, yes, there may be some individual shifts resulting from the
intense lobbying being predicted, but both sides will be doing the
lobbying, and it is a fair bet that more rats will jump from the
sinking ship than from the winning one.
In other words, defeat is staring Mbeki in the face. What will he do
about it? Everything depends on the answer to that question.
Meanwhile, looming over the whole scene is the question of whether or
not the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) is going to recharge Zuma
with corruption charges, each carrying a statutory minimum sentence of
15 years imprisonment — and, if so, whether it will do so before or
after the Polokwane conference.
It is three weeks since the Supreme Court of Appeals handed down four
judgments in favour of the NPA, giving it access at last to the large
amount of documentary evidence it needed to recharge Zuma. The prudent
thing would have been for it to do so immediately. But in yet another
instance of bungling in this drawn-out affair, it delayed.
In part this was Mbeki's fault, yet another instance of how his
machiavellian manoeuvres have caught up with him. In his zeal to
protect his ally, Police Commissioner Jackie Selebe, from impending
prosecution, he suspended NPA chief Vusi Pikolo, who was known to be
strongly committed to recharging Zuma.
That meant the tough decision fell, at the critical moment, on the
untried and understandably nervous acting director, Mokotedi Mpshe.
Perhaps not realising the importance of timing in this matter, he
hesitated — and now it is too late.
To bring charges against Zuma now, after he has established himself as
the clear front-runner, would outrage his supporters who would
denounce it as another blatant intervention by Mbeki to use state
institutions to derail their champion at the last moment. Not only
would this increase popular support for Zuma, it could set the country
On the other hand, to bring these charges only after Zuma has gained
the presidency of the ruling party and is on track to become President
of South Africa would require a degree of courage that Mpshe and the
whole NPA/Scorpions structure may not have. In which case, Zuma would
head for the presidency of the country with the serious allegations
against him untested — and once there, he would have presidential
immunity from prosecution.
Taking account of all this, what are the prospects that lie ahead? I
offer three scenarios:
SCENARIO ONE Driven by his own ego and a camp of supporters who fear
being swept into oblivion if he is ousted, Mbeki decides to fight to
the finish. This would lead to a bitter clash on the conference floor,
with Mbeki losing amid triumphant calls from the Zuma camp for a
clean-out of Mbeki's closest and most senior lieutenants from the
There could even be a call, backed by a motion of no-confidence in
Mbeki as President, for him to resign immediately and hold a snap
election so that Zuma could take over immediately.
This could result in the departure of some of the most able people in
the Cabinet, resulting in a sharp change of direction in social and
economic policies and a general rupturing of both the party and the
country. It is the worst-case scenario.
SCENARIO TWO Mbeki realises he is on a losing track and decides to
avoid the public humiliation of defeat on the conference floor by
announcing beforehand that he is withdrawing from the contest in the
interests of party and national unity — and inviting Zuma to do
likewise. The deal would then be to allow a compromise candidate to
take over the leadership of the party, someone acceptable to the Left,
such as secretary-general Kgalema Motlanthe, whose role would be to
reunite the party and its alliance partners.
Mbeki's own withdrawal would remove 60% of the sting from this bitter
contest, which has always been more of an anti-Mbeki than a pro-Zuma
movement. It would not be easy to persuade Zuma to withdraw when the
road ahead looks clear for him to take over leadership of the country.
But though weakened, Mbeki is not without some negotiating powers.
Without his cooperation, Zuma would find it difficult to gain control
of a bitterly divided party stripped of some of its most effective
ministers and to run the country successfully.
There is also the matter of the impending criminal charges. With Mbeki
having made an honourable withdrawal in the national interest, Zuma
might find it difficult to counter the argument that it would be in
the best interests of both party and country for him to allow the
legal process to run its course and clear his name — after which he
would be the undisputed candidate for the national presidency.
Of course, he might be convicted. In that case, he might have the
assurance of a pardon from Mbeki, but the country would have been
spared the ignominy of having a suspected criminal as president.
This is the best-case scenario. Difficult, but not impossible.
SCENARIO THREE Mbeki realises he is going to lose and announces his
withdrawal from the race in the interests of party and national unity
— at the same time approaching Zuma in a spirit of magnanimity and
offering to join with him in healing the rift and bringing the two
warring sides together.
Zuma could hardly reject such a gesture. Indeed, he would desperately
need Mbeki's help in reuniting the ANC and would obviously welcome the
offer and respond in kind.
Such a gesture would dramatically change the political atmosphere and
also go some way to restoring Mbeki's legacy.
This would open the way for Zuma to retain the most effective members
of the Mbeki Cabinet, while disposing of those who have been primarily
responsible for the incumbent's deepening unpopularity, such as the
Ministers of Health, Safety and Security, Justice, Intelligence,
perhaps Education, and most certainly the Pahad brothers, Essop and
Zuma would have to accommodate some of his key supporters in Cosatu
and the South African Communist Party (SACP), but I doubt he would
give them any of the key economic portfolios. SACP leader Blade
Nzimande, for example, is an education specialist and would likely be
given that portfolio, while the SACP's Jeremy Cronin is a highly
intelligent and rational individual who would do well in any
The question on every investor's mind is probably: What of Trevor
Manuel? He has been an extremely competent Minister of Finance, but
his association with GEAR has made him unpopular with the Left.
A really smart Jacob Zuma would make him Deputy President, as a
striking gesture to reassure the international and domestic business
communities — but that may be a bridge too far after Manuel's intimate
relationship with Mbeki.
This is the most likely scenario.
What, then, of Zuma himself? What kind of President would he be?
Very different from Mbeki in almost every respect. Whereas Mbeki is
highly intelligent and well educated, Zuma had to leave formal school
after standard two when his father died and he had to start working to
help support the large family. But to his great credit, he continued
his education by correspondence while a political prisoner on Robben
Island, which, combined with his political activities, has made him
into a smart and literate man.
With this background, he is essentially a man of the people, with a
charm and warmth that endears him to the crowds. He would not be the
philosopher president. You would not hear him quoting Yeats or
Shakespeare or delivering speeches of literary grandeur, but he has
his ear to the ground and he knows what's going on. As the Afrikaners
used to say of their political equivalents, Hy weet waar die volk se
He is clever, but not too clever. Perhaps his greatest asset is that,
unlike Mbeki, he knows his own intellectual limitations. He would not
try to run everything himself. A Zuma administration, like Nelson
Mandela's, would be more open and collegiate, with the President
keeping a light hand on the tiller. He would let his ministers get on
with the job of running their departments, while he concentrated on
what he does best, which is mixing with the people, pressing flesh,
listening to their complaints and trying to make them feel good. It
would all be done in the name of returning to the ANC's tradition of
As for policies, there could be some welcome changes. A much clearer
and more vigorous set of policies to combat HIV-AIDS; a tougher line
on crime; a tougher line on Zimbabwe, where Cosatu, Zuma's closest
ally, has been actively involved and grievously insulted by Robert
The worries are on the economic front, for although Zuma is not
himself a socialist, he would come to power indebted to the Left. He
would have to deliver some payback. He is not the sort of man to do
anything silly, like "nationalising the commanding heights of the
economy" which used to be an ANC mantra before the party came to power
and faced global economic reality, but he might feel obliged to yield
to Cosatu demands for an end to inflation targeting and, more
seriously, to introduce protectionism in industries such as clothing,
textiles and footwear where there have been massive job losses through
cheap Asian imports.
Which brings me to my main concern about a Zuma presidency. His
campaign has been a populist one, pitched to the aggrieved underclass
who feel they have missed out on the new wealth flowing to the
burgeoning black middle class and are accusing Mbeki of betraying the
It is an easy pitch to make, but a difficult one on which to deliver.
And failure to deliver to that expectant constituency could provoke an
angry backlash, with new accusations of "betraying the revolution"
leveled against the new President. It is a familiar pattern which has
led to the axiom that "revolutions end up devouring their own
How Zuma might handle such a backlash is hard to judge, but it should
be noted that history is littered with examples of embattled populists
turning to demagoguery and repression.
More immediately, though, there is the problem of those corruption
charges. The prospect of having a President living under a cloud of
unresolved allegations of impropriety is not a comfortable one for a
new democracy that came into being with such high hopes of being a
moral beacon to the world. But that may well be where we are headed.
"L'Enigme Zuma" - L'Intelligent 16 dicembre 2007:
Cliccate per scaricare: - copertina - pag. 1 - pag. 2
The beginning of the End for the Philosopher King in South Africa
The ANC, South Africa's ruling party, and the oldest Liberation
movement on the continent, ended its controversial Congress and
predictably elected former Vice President , Zuma, as their leader
which ipso facto will make him the Presidential candidate of the Party
in General elections due in 2009. He defeated his former Boss and
current President of South Africa, Thabo Mbeki.
Only those who have not been following the battles closely enough or
those hoping against hope could have expected a different outcome.
Some of us have been so consumed by our own ideological prejudices,
sense of 'decency' and 'what is proper' that we ignored the national
and local dynamics of the power play. I am not sure how many people
apart from President Mbeki's most loyal worshippers and groupies,
inside South Africa are weeping for Mbeki getting his comeuppance.
Even some of the more honest and less sheepish of his admirers had not
been sure of his wisdom in pursuing his third term bid to the floor of
the congress but they were all sidelined for not following the whim of
the 'great leader'. Outside of South Africa there may even be fewer
people bothered by his defeat but more anxiety about what Zuma
Presidency may mean given all that people believe they know about
(mostly unpalatable in polite circles).
President Mbeki is one of those leaders that many find it difficult to
warm to. He is first and foremost an intellectual and he never misses
any instance to let you know. He takes himself so seriously that he is
generally percived as being arroganct. Not long ago I was involved in
trying to set up a Panel of Heads of state to interface with CSO in an
AU pre Summit programme. Mbeki was one of the leaders we had invited.
Another Head of State we had invited refused to accept our invitation
because he said he could not share a platform with Mbeki whom he
accused of always talking down to him.
His intellectual aloofness, statist managerial style and
authoriotarian technocracy (except where his loyalists are concerned)
combine to make him at best, respected but never quite loved either
within the ANC or outside of it.
Thabo must have calculated that since he could not match Madiba , the
Saint, therefore his best option was to become a Philosopher King.
Unfortunately he exergerated this claim and needlessly engaged himself
in unnecessary debates and controversies which may have been more
suited for academic faculties than the Presidency. Even when his
general critique and arguments were correct his penchant for having
the last say and even overstating his case unnecessarily lose him
support. The most famous of course is his views on HIV/Aids. His
linking Aids to poverty was correct. He ruffled not a few feathers in
the HIV/Aids industry and advocacy and forced consideration of other
factors instead of just treating HIV/Aids as a Medical condition. He
should have stopped there. But that's not Thabo 'Mr. know All'
Mbeki's style. He proceeded to turn himself into a Medical scientist
and prey to all kinds of 'alternative science' forums to prove himself
Subsequently he became notorious internationally and nationally as a
figure of both scorn and ridicule as an Aids denialist! It reached
ridiculous levels of people becoming so fearful to mention HIV/Aids in
case it is misconstrued as an attack on the President. The President
of any country is not elected to be chairman of a faculty or head of a
debating club. He or she is in office to deliver on bread and butter
issues to the citizens.
But Thabo thinks that his intellectual force alone (reinforced by
state powers) will win all arguments and cow his opponents. He does
not accept defeat or admit where and when he is wrong he just finds
ways of continuing the debate at any opportunity. This arrogance he
shares with his fellow Third way fraud of a leader, one Tony Blair,
thankfully now banished to the debris of Israeli impunity in the
The same arrogance that forced a previously grateful Labour party,
fearfully loyal MPs and an adoring nation (never have they seen such a
likeable Labour Leader) to get rid of Blair is finally showing Thabo
the exit door in South African politics. Zuma is just the beneficiary
of a groundswell of opposition to the President's authoritarianism,
intellectual and political intimidation of opponents and delusions of
invincibility. Those who are concentrating on the many weaknesses of
Zuma are missing this point. People hate Thabo more than they like
Zuma. In a bizarre way Thabo's attacks on Zuma have lionized the man
just like Obasanjo's attacks on his Deputy, Atiku Abubakar, dubiously
turned the man into a hero among the many forces opposed to Obasanjo's
sad term elongation. It was not that some of the charges against Atiku
were not true but the politics of the persecution made many people to
overlook them. This is the same with Zuma.
But beyond the personalities involved there are many important lessons
to learn from President Thabo Mbeki's defeat .
One, it is indeed true that all politics is local. It is the ANC
members and later the ordinary voters of South Africa who are the
employers of Thabo and Zuma no matter what anyone thinks of both of
Two, a democratic process may not necessarily produce a democratic
outcome or the best candidate may not even win but the essence of a
democratic processs include the right of free peoples to make their
own mistakes with a certainty that they can correct them, if and when
necessary isn a democratica way.
Three, Leaders do not own the party, government or country.
Four, mere intellect alone does not make one a good / popular leader
otherwise Trotsky would have defeated Stalin; Al Gore would have
obliterated George Bush and probably save the US from global hatred
and the World unnecessary escalation of every conflict to terrorism.
Five, in many African countries there is always this argument about
'illiterates' in political contests. We do not mind 'illiterates'
voting for us 'the educated' but somehow we are not willing to accept
that they can vote for themselves too. Because Zuma did not possess
higher formal qualifications Mbeki's people disparage him as an
'illiterate'. This man was ANC's Chief of Intelligence inside the
country. He was elected Vice President of the Party and the Country.
Is the ANC so cynical a party to elect an illiterate? Why do we attack
illiterates in a situation like ours where still many of our citizens
do not possess even the little education that Zuma has?
Six, in the specific case of South Africa, the Thabo-Zuma axis betrays
an ideological schism within the ANC between those for whom liberation
has delivered prosperity (unfortunately a minority) and those left
outside the rainbow (the majority); conflict between those who
remained at home and those relatively better educated/privileged
returnees from outside; but also growing discontent about historical
ethno-regional imbalances within the movement and the country. The
class struggle is alive even if consumerism and neo liberal hegemonic
discourse may be disguising or distorting it. Zuma is part of the
unravellling of the post apartheid narratives that made Mandela , a
man of all seasons , meaning to the oppressors and the oppressed
whatever was comfortable to them and Thabo's neo liberalist fantasy of
there being room for evrybody through the unequal market in a society
in which first world cohabits with fourth, jaw by jowl.
One final lesson for all African leaders is that the era of tinkering
with Party processes and constitution of the country is winding down
across the continent. People want leaders with limited terms who
retire to do other things for the country, the continent and the world
instead of just finding ways of hanging on. It is a victory for
democracy. I am sure many Africans would have wished that their ruling
parties are real / vibrant political party like the ANC where the wish
of the people rather than the personal will of self appointed cabals
decide who gets what ,when and how.
As the succession battles raged in the past three years I used to
deflate the ebulient optimism of some of my ex-comrades, now
bourgeois and new rich of South Africa by observing that since their
first President was a Saint and the second one is a Philosopher king ,
the next one will be something that rhymes with Weep! For their sake
and ours I really hope I am not right.
Dr Tajudeen Abdul-Raheem is DEPUTY DIRECTOR, UN MILLENNIUM CAMPAIGN,
based in Nairobi, Kenya.