Newspaper space on the Sunday of September 20-21 was wholly dedicated to writing the obituary of outgoing President Thabo Mbeki’s reign. It was time to audit his legacy and what made him tick like a Timex wristwatch. Some people have said this is a difficult time for the fourteen years old democracy. That’s what’s funny about democracy – often than not a good process produces bad results.
But as South Africans we’ve been through the worst in our short democratic life. We’ve been through a Third Force, a civil war in
To repeat what Independent Democrats leader Patricia de Lille said in response to the ANC’s sacking of their member from executive power, she said Mbeki is the first casualty of the multi-billion rand arms deal. He fell, not on his own sword as cartoonists would like us to believe, but on behalf of the ANC. If anything in Andrew Fenstein’s arms deal-tell-all book After the Party is to be believed, the ANC which allegedly used kickbacks from the arms deal to finance its last elections was supposed to be the Roman Fool.
Maybe it’s time the IDASA proposal that political parties be compelled to disclose who their funders are and how they raise their bounty be considered with the urgency it deserves.
With the almighty ANC NEC having decided to send the First Citizen packing it calls for a new electoral system which empowers the voter instead of the party leadership. Maybe that’s what we need, an electoral system that puts the interest of the voter before that of the party. A system where the president is elected directly by the electorate and only they can remove him, either through a ballot or impeachment proceedings carried out in a representative forum like the National Assembly.
However if there’s any lesson that was learned though the whole process it’s that it’s not individuals who run governments but a collective of the executive, the national assembly and the National Council of Provinces. The president is just a celebrated head. Mbeki might be gone but he show must go on. Whatever Judge Chris Nicholson said, founded or not it irrelevant, Mbeki is a goner and with him went his ‘imposing intellect’.
ANC Secretary-General Gwede Mantashe was at pain to assure the nation that their decision to recall Mbeki from his executive position was not to protect Jacob Zuma from prosecution but was done in the interest of party unity. Analyst read that to mean that with Mbeki gone, the Mbeki camp naturally closes shop. But the Mbeki camp is roughly 40% of the ANC membership and 40% can not disappear at the whim of two thirds of the ANC NEC members.
Again, maybe South Africans should ask themselves whether the interest of the party are more important than the interests of the nation, given the alleged mass resignations that are likely to follow the sinking the Mbeki dreadnought. Perhaps nothing makes sense – but I repeat, we are South Africans and we are known for our winning spirit in the face of adversity – and this is nothing compared to what we’ve been through already.
* At 19h30 Thabo Mbeki appeared on national television for the last time as head of state to say goodbye. He expressed his faith in the incoming administration while denying all accusations against him by Judge Nicholson, the ANC, SACP, YCL, COSATU and the ANCYL. Before him ANC Treasurer Matthew Phosa appeared on television saying the ANC had lost all faith in Mbeki while Mantashe tried to dissect Mbeki's farewell on another channel.