Should Zuma give way for a Motlanthe presidency after the 2009 elections?*

September 25, 2008 § 8 Comments

If Zuma were to get up and address the nation and tell us that he has no intentions of running for the presidency of the country, he would do much to repair his chequered reputation. Such an announcement would probably be one of the single greatest acts of self-sacrifice this nation has ever seen. It would be a great turn around. He would redeem himself in many people’s eyes.

But then again, who am I kidding? Nothing of the sort would ever happen; not in a million years. If Jacob Zuma were to be asked today if he would be willing to stand down in the name of party unity he would give us the predictable rehearsed classic response, “I serve at the pleasure of the ANC. If the ANC says that they want me to serve as president of the country, I will serve. If it says it wants me to sweep the floors I will. It is not for me to say I don’t want to be president or I want that position.” I would bet a billion rand that’s what he would say if asked. Ok, maybe not those precise words but you get my drift.

It is my understanding that no one puts a gun against anyone’s head and forces someone to a position they don’t want in the ANC. Sometimes our leaders treat us as though we are idiots. We may be dumb, but we certainly aren’t as dumb as they think.

In a clever attempt to have it both ways, Zuma could also announce to the nation that he is making that consideration when in fact he isn’t. The Youth League, Cosatu and others would then shout from the rooftops and he would “cave”. He would then say that there are too many calls for him to run — he simply cannot ignore those calls; he has to serve the people. I expect that he would also point to the example set by Nelson Mandela who, before the elections, is reported to have told the NEC that he did not want to be president of the country because he felt he was too old. He also argued that there were younger and more capable hands to lead the country. The only difference is that there were no divisions within the ANC at the time. The ANC urged him to stand because the world trusted him and he would also ease any white fears. Basically, it was best for the country for him to be president.

Referring to the Mandela example, is it the best thing for the country to have a Zuma presidency? In fact, let me pose a less noble question. Is it the best thing for the ANC? I doubt that it is best for the ANC for him to run and these are my very unscientific reasons:

1. If he runs, the ANC will most certainly have a reduced majority at the polls next year as a direct result of the manner in which Thabo Mbeki has been treated. It was not the most politically astute move to make a few months before the general elections.

2. The DA will most certainly win the Western Cape thanks to the divisions in the ANC and the coloured vote going to the DA once again.

3. I am convinced that the UDM will see an increase in enthusiasm for it, particularly in the Eastern Cape. Personally, I believe Bantubonke Holomisa has been making sense for a very long time but nobody has been listening.

4. Much of the young, black middle class feels like political orphans at the moment and will either abandon the ANC and will not vote, or they will look for a new home.

Did the ANC really consider all of these possibilities before the ousting of Thabo Mbeki? Did they really have the interests of the ANC at heart or did they just have the interests of one man? Or were the Zumarites so drunk with victory after Judge Nicholson’s judgment that they threw reason out the window?

The advantage of having Kgalema Motlanthe as president is that he would be his own man. He owes no one. The ANC would remain largely intact if he were to run for the presidency. Most of those who feel like they are political orphans now that Thabo Mbeki has been fired would come back home. The ANC wouldn’t suffer as much in the elections next year.

Unfortunately the ANC is led by a group of hot heads who would never consider Kgalema Motlanthe as the option for party and country. They want what they want and they will do whatever it takes to get it. Get rid of the Scorpions, get rid of unwanted premiers, get rid of Thabo Mbeki and maybe the next thing is to drop all charges against Jacob Zuma. And finally, President Jacob Gedleyihlekisa Zuma.

If Zuma were to stand down it would probably be one of the greatest selfless acts we have ever witnessed as a nation. Not just because he would forego power, but he would forego a couple of extra pages in the history books as South Africa’s third democratically elected president.

If Zuma takes this course of action, he would also free himself from the political debts he owes. His creditors would tell him in no uncertain terms that a debtor cannot tell his creditors how he wants to pay them. He simply has to abide by the terms and conditions that have been set out before him, or there will be consequences. He might be forced to constantly make decisions he doesn’t want to make as president because he owes so many people. Zuma is between a rock and stainless steel.

To be fair, none of us know what it’s like to be Jacob Gedleyihlekisa Zuma. We can only imagine the torments he goes through. Now he can see a light at the end of the tunnel. But once he emerges into the light, will he be his own master?

Thabo Mbeki and Jacob Zuma both damaged the ANC. They should ride into the sunset and allow others to repair the mess they have created. I suspect both men believe the other is responsible for this mess. They should leave the stage for Kgalema Motlanthe.
The question is: is Zuma man enough to give up what no man would give up? Can he truly give up what he has been working towards for such a long time? Can he give it up when it is within reach? When he has it in the palm of his hand? If I were him I don’t know if I would be able to. And that is the truth. Perhaps we should understand why he wouldn’t give up. But I don’t think we should excuse him for not letting go.

*first published September 25 2008,

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§ 8 Responses to Should Zuma give way for a Motlanthe presidency after the 2009 elections?*

  • Faten says:

    A TRUE leader should know when to step back…is Zuma one true leader?

  • Pitso says:

    Hey Khaya!

    I understand that 702 Talk Radio was going to interview you on Heritage day! Well done.I missed the interview unfortunately…

    I certainly think you are on to something on this article! But we both know that Zuma is not going anywhere. I have published a some thoughts about what the ANC should do under Zuma post 2009, some compromise presidency model, let me know what you think, it is a middle of the road kind of a suggestion! Maybe someone somewhere is listening to us young black who are slowly feeling unwelcome in the rowdy ANC!

  • Saikoza says:

    We all know this will never happen. It’s pure wishful thinking.
    For the sake of the country, let Zuma become president (even IF he was to be found guilty of corruption). The country is already in a tricky situation.

    This is Africa, and with it comes African mentality. There is not enough ANC supporters that reason like you Khaya (I wish there was). Unfortunately for many voters it’s about charisma, personality, tribalism etc. not wisdom, intelligence, capability etc.

    There is 2 dangers in this current situation for the ANC. Firstly – this is (like you already mentioned) going to cost a lot of voters. Secondly, with bad / corruptable leadership comes the dangers of more corruption, more aggression and more instability. Secondly, when another party takes control, this could turn into another Kenya / Zimbabwe, etc. = History of Africa.
    Therefore I say again, let’s support Zuma & let’s see what he can do. Let’s give him a chance (a fair chance), because ultimately we DO NOT have a choice.

  • MP3 says:

    Another reason why Zuma won’t step down with a sudden turn about in his less than honourable behaviour is because being in the place he is in now – being place of power being the ANC president and all – with such a role comes certain perks, good pay and obviously the support of his fellow party members who will no doubt have something to say if Zuma is ever convicted of anything from this protracted court battle aka raping of the justice system.

    if he steps down now I’m quite sure a lot of people will abandon his plight to evade justice and simply leave him to whatever the NPA eventually managers to pin on the slippery eel that he is… This ANC presidential suit actually works in his favour. After all would you want to be the judge that sends the ANC president to jail? I think not, no matter how much a judge may purvey as being for justice. i wouldn’t want Julius Malema to start his elimination threats and set the wheel in motion for possible chaos.

    that aside though. with Thabo’s forced resignation i must say that i love that the ineffectual ministers are following suit. there are some really useless ministers that are leaving and i can’t help at least be a little thankful that Thabo’s sad departure came at least with some good side effects. So long Beetroot ‘health’ minister…

  • morne says:

    Well said in the letter.

    The only concern that i have and many people in SA is if Zuma can get away from having his day in court what stops him from making a mockery of this country’s justice system again. And what lies in store for us once he is in office.

    I will never forget his inteview in bbc (hard talk) where it was put to him that he is a “crook”. He just laughed and said ” define crook”.

    I can see tough times for SA ahead if he is to be the next president. Next Zim – maybe.

    Who blaims all the skilled people leaving this country. It is frightning looking at the stats. But i suppose the goverment will just import skilled labour from neighbouring countries again. Unfortunately our standards will drop again and again like it has been the case.

  • OLA says:

    The good The Bad The Ugly
    Good= No majority vote, more competiton makes wining party on thin ice must perform
    The Bad= If Anc youth league, gets angry they will act on it, so Zuma steps down there goes Malema Leading his youth into trouble
    The Ugly= We have a president running the counrty from prison, no one will invest

  • Cpt Frank says:

    I have never read anything this painful in my life, then the other day i watched one of your video’s I nearly killed over in my chair.

    Sorry mate, but do you have an ounce of preparation before you talk or do you just write as it rolls in ?
    Seriously my friend, first of all everything you write at the top of this page, if Zuma does this and if Zuma does that then this would be so amazing…. You are completely ignoring the question, what do you think of Jacob Zuma and secondly what will happen when he becomes president economically and socially, what are his policies and do you stand for it or are you against some of them ? Do you agree with the death penalty do you agree with more land reformation ?

    When you put the words political in front of your name does not necessarily mean you are political now, you actually need to talk about politics not lie between the flowers and think “dear diary i really think Zuma would be like so amazing if he steps down he will be such a man”

    What do you think of affirmative action ? what do you think of the BEE, the electricity, our water the crime,aids, poverty and something that very little countries have as much of and that is the manner which crime takes place, the violence that is used.

    There are a lot of good things about South Africa, but you don’t represent them, you are a dreamer not in the sense of people like Luther king but in a sense of, o shit if this guy is in my country we are lost, you are sleeping next to the river like Tom Saywer between a patch of Lilies thinking of your next great adventure.

    If you say that your white friends are happy with what is happening in South Africa you must be mad, I don’t think black and white people could honestly be happy with what is happening there.

    Our poverty rate is worse than ever, Xenophobia is on a high, this alone is an indication of unreserved blind revulsion towards any other race their culture and their history, a form of intolerance towards other human beings, and their human rights, which is detestation in it’s most barbaric and basic form.

    I’m going to stop there, please mate if you want to continue doing this don’t put it on the net, or try just try a little bit before you do something this time.

    Here is something I’ll leave you with think about it, and give it time don’t say the first thing that comes to mind.

    “We also, as a minority group in South Africa want to be born free from our past and be able to compete in a fair job market”

  • captain knutt says:

    i think that a nationwide poll should be taken to see how many ppl favor integration ,i mean true integration….will you white man object to your son or daughter marrying an African ,and vise-versus. wil you African man allow your daughter to marry the indian man,and so on and so forth ….there should be no “exclusive clubs”when it comes to race”ethnicity”,religion ,color of skin …you get my drift……and anybody that disagrees should be placed on an island .a big island to live out their fantasies of apartheid and racism…a good example of what racism causes is seen in the movie”sometimes in april” which sheds some light on the whole Rwanda issue ….and i believe in my suggestion from the bottom of my heart….if we do it ,who will be left to complain,who will want to fight wars?

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