ANC succession: The bigger picture

Long-serving, popular senior members of the ANC explained that conservatively speaking, the large majority of their movement would not support Mbeki in his bid to be re-elected as ANC president at the Congress in December 2007. They bluntly say, “If Mbeki would be re-elected for a third term as president of the ANC, he could rule almost indefinitely. It also means, he would be able to determine who the next head-of-state of South Africa would be without having to change the constitution.” They foresee tough times ahead, if Mbeki would be re-elected and that, they do not want to see happening. Observers and insiders alike point out that the preparations in the run-up for presidential elections are a copy of those in the USA. A ‘school of thought’ inside the ANC has already gone out to propagate that president Mbeki “is doing a good job” and “should therefore, be re-elected as president of the ANC”. Letters calling for the re-election of Mbeki as ANC president have been written to most of the country’s newspapers. That way the market is being tested and at least the clientele prepared for another term under Mbeki. It seems, ANC senior key leadership structures will ensure that only one candidate for the job would be able to stand and that would be Thabo Mbeki. Currently, they identify all possible competing candidates. Once that has been done, those contenders would be convinced that the ANC should only have one presidential candidate. Support for electioneering has already set in. “Civil society” and particularly the media rolled out their massive, well-resourced structures. Alternate and critical voices have long disappeared from both the electronic as well as the print media. But, working at a hectic pace, continuously identifying new contenders for the president’s position could prove to be tiring for the fittest and most ambitious. Third, Mbeki’s Achievements. One should give credit where credit is due. President Thabo Mbeki is hailed as South Africa’s modern, democratic leader. He is responsible for ‘good governance’ with good ‘service delivery’ and ‘anti corruption’, overall ‘stability and democracy’ not only in South Africa, but also in the region and beyond. Mbeki has turned the country away from ‘socialism’ and opened doors to a ‘free market economy’, economic growth and prosperity. Under his rule, South Africa has become a respected member of the ‘international community’ and a ‘democratic as well as economic leader’ in Africa. However, Mbeki is also faced with serious challenges. His policies need the support of the controlling mechanisms of the G-7 (plus Russia as its eighth member) and their principles. Those include the UNO, the World Bank-IMF, the World Trade Organisation (WTO), the Lome` Agreement and many of the financial structures of the international West. Here are some of the challenges: n The country’s unemployment rate seems to be anywhere between 26% up to even 50% taking various research institutes’ findings into account. n As an importer of goods, South Africa suffers a trade deficit. n Between 30% and 40% of the country’s goldmines have become unproductive. Over the last fifteen years, South Africa’s gold production fell by almost 20 percent. Despite the high gold price, it has no effect on the economy, as the ZAR currency is far too strong. n SA’s clothing manufacturing industry seems seriously threatened and had to lay off thousands of employees already. n At some stage soon, the taxi industry will be revamped, which could lead to further retrenchments. n About 20 percent of the population of 48 million leads an average to above average life style. The majority of that 20 percent happens to be white. Above seems part of a thriving economy. In his budget speech, Finance Minister Trevor Manuel announced, government would make ZAR426 billion available to kick-start the second (black) economy. Manuel is also on record having insisted, “Deficit before borrowing” ‘ an IMF-guideline. Fourth, the G-8 and the ANC Leadership Battle Would South Africa be able to afford the high price of the G-7 controlling mechanisms over government policies, taking above into consideration? The international West perceives the ANC deputy president, Jacob Zuma, to be too close to the trade unions and the Communist party. The trade unions and the Communist party are openly against the dictates of the IMF, the WTO, against privatization and globalisation. They fear ‘escalating unemployment’. Observers claim, if Mbeki would be defeated in his bid for the presidency of the ANC, the IMF could lose its hold on SA’s economic policies. Fifth, International Control Structures and South Africa Any country outside the ‘US approved neo-liberal democracy’ and the global structures of the international West such as World Bank-IMF, WTO, Lome` Agreement, including all other structures not named in this column, is perceived to pose a threat to those structures and ‘world democracy’. Clearly, the international West views economic and trade relations with China as their biggest threat. It is about global control. A case in point is Zimbabwe under president Mugabe. President Mugabe initially had accepted the rules of the World Bank-IMF. But, when he looked after his country first, the same IMF hanged him with their rules. Another victim of the international Western structures is former president Mahatir of Malaysia. The internal struggle within Namibia’s ruling SWAPO Party and the media campaign against the legacy of former president Sam Nujoma and his rule is added evidence. Every time a huge “civil society” with an NGO ‘ “human rights” industry complimented with an even larger propaganda-media-machine with embedded “journalism”, assisted by a certain type of “academic”, was rolled out to destroy their economy and their legacy. G-8 countries actually promote the fundamental principle of ‘democracy’, according to which ‘the people shall govern’. That means, the president and his cabinet are elected and represent the people. Yet, established historians, among them the likes of Noam Chomsky, observe that the G-8 undermine the principle of democracy. Their plan for doing so seems to ‘fit their bigger reason in order to overcome smaller principles for the sake of global democracy’. A prevailing perception is that China, the Middle East (Islam) and Russia pose a serious threat to ‘world democracy’ and therefore in the wider context, to ‘world peace’. Hence, the G-8 could be rightfully observed as ‘manipulating a few smaller democracies of the world to influence their bigger picture. Whichever way that debate could be evaluated, such actions are in real terms ‘un-democratic to the extent that they are dictatorial’. The media barons are part of the ‘global structures’ and are their entrenched propagandists. Therefore, no one should be irritated, or surprised at their ’embedded journalism’ promoting those structures and demonizing everything else. It would make perfect sense that the Southern African Development Community (Sadc) and the African Union would have to tow the line and remain with the international West and their ‘super-control-structures’. South Africa’s head-of-state and president of the ruling ANC, Mbeki, is perceived to represent a “modern, new democracy and economy”. His policies are supported by the G-8. Mbeki and his Minister of Finance, Trevor Manuel, advocate ‘Thatcherism’, in other words, ‘privatization’. Manuel is lauded for it and punted as a future senior director of the IMF. South Africa, as most of the global economies, is structured according to G-8 controls and interests. At the same time the G-8 promote world democracy. But, how could it be explained in that context, that honorary members are perceived to be working against the fundamentals of democracy? Sixth, a Probable Outcome It is probable that foreign interests in South Africa could also win the day in the lengthy court battles against ANC deputy president Jacob Zuma and eventually at the ANC Congress in December 2007. It is also probable that Mbeki could be the only candidate standing for president of the ANC, even if most of the members present ‘ in a worst-case scenario ‘abstain from voting in order to demonstrate their dissatisfaction and only a miniscule few cast their vote. Mbeki would still become president of the ANC in December 2007. If members nominate someone else from the floor, that nominee would not stand a chance, as he/she would not have had any time, resources and infrastructure to compete against the first candidate. Could it be probable that the ANC Alliance, the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU), the South African Communist Party (SACP), the ANC Youth League, the Congress of South African Students (COSAS) and many disgruntled members of the tried and tested ANC would part ways with the ‘new’ ANC of its president Mbeki then? If probable, would it form a new, democratic opposition, weakening the ‘new’ ANC? How strong would the ‘new’ ANC still be and who could be its new alliance partner? The G-8 and their interests would in all probability make very sure that whoever wins the battle for ANC president in South Africa, would not be able to break away from the already established policies. This would apply to anyone, particularly coming in from the left of the ANC leadership. So, who will be more acceptable to the G-8 and their interests? President Mbeki’s as well as ANC deputy president Zuma’s positions were debated. Who could be a possible outsider coming in? South Africa’s current deputy president, Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, could be one of the contenders for the ANC throne, if Mbeki decided not to stand. There are rumours that Johannesburg based Black Economic Empowerment (BEE) prot’g’ and senior ANC member, former premier of South Africa’s province Gauteng, Tokyo Sexwale was recommended as an alternative, according to senior ANC stalwarts. Local media across the board hails Sexwale as “an astute and highly successful businessman, a political leader too, with no tribal or other preferences, always able and ready to build bridges”. He is also very popular within the white-owned business community. Not having been directly involved in hard-core, day-to-day politics, the battle for president could be too trying for Sexwale. Well-known, senior ANC stalwarts point out, “If Sexwale were to get involved in the battle for president of the ANC, he could find it just too hot for his liking. Business is his forte. Let him stay there.” There could be an “absolute outsider” without any “struggle baggage” and no real commitment to the people’s movement of the ANC, who could eventually be sprung onto South Africa as president, if Mbeki becomes president of the ANC in December 2007. It is a woman, married to a former trade unionist, who is currently serving as premier of South Africa’s wealthiest province, Gauteng. His name ‘ Sam Shilowa. During the ‘struggle years’ she worked for BMW as public relations consultant and is now hailed as a successful Black Economic Empower-ment (BEE) businesswoman. Her name ‘ Mrs. Wendy Lohabe. Now, there seem to be two schools of thought about the ANC: (i) The traditional people’s movement with a struggle-history against colonial-apartheid oppression and (ii) a new ANC, seeking its place in the global economy of the international West. The first, historic ANC seems to have been left behind in the process of establishing the future ANC. Both carry different types of “baggage”. According to senior ANC stalwarts, who insist to be “proudly part of the people’s movement with a long struggle history”, “if Mbeki would be re-elected as ANC president, the traditional ANC with its struggle history would be gone forever”. A “new” ANC would emerge from there on. Leaders from the “traditional, historic ANC of the people” would have “icon status” only. “South Africa could be squarely aligned with G-8 thinking.” Meanwhile, South Africa’s economy, infrastructure and banking systems are too far advanced. To ignore it, would pose a major disadvantage for G-8 interests in the Sadc region. It is said, the world seems to live in some form of balance. Historians are therefore against imposing and secretly and brutally interfering in internal affairs of sovereign states. They believe that it creates instabilities. The way the G-8 go about manipulating countries and regions to further their interests only, seems quite unacceptable.

April 2006
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