September 5, 2011 § 5 Comments
“I have said it so often, but want to repeat it here at what must certainly be the last time that parliament will bend its own rules to allow me to address it: no President or Prime Minister in the history of this country can claim to have done more for the people and the country than has been achieved by President Thabo Mbeki.
He is a modest man and I know he would prefer that I do not sing his personal praises, but his achievement as President and national leader is the embodiment of what our nation is capable of. Public acknowledgement of his achievements is to affirm ourselves as a nation, to assert the confidence with which we face our national future
and conduct ourselves on the international stage.
Thank you, Mister President, for leading us with such vision and dedication to your task.
— The full quote by Nelson Mandela during a joint sitting of parliament to mark 10 years of democracy in South Africa, Monday 10 May 2004, Cape Town.
February 26, 2011 § 6 Comments
I wrote this column last year and it appeared on the Cape Times.
Mbeki has been plotting a great revenge since his resignation. Or as many believe, his ousting from the presidential office, where he didn’t even have time to clear his office and residence according to reverend Frank Chikane’s Chikane Files. After he received his marching orders many thought that he had gone back to the drawing board to plot his revenge. They were right. He was.
Not the kind of man to want to write a biography about himself as former American presidents are prone to, most knew that he wouldn’t be sitting at home doing that. His revenge was far larger than a mere autobiography can master. He would not justify his actions in a book. Instead he was working on a legacy far larger than just the simple act of writing a best selling autobiography. We all know it would have been some great reading. Many of couldn’t wait to read his ANC “blogs” every Friday. They made for some reverting reading.
He has been very quiet since the events of 24 September 2008 when he had to vacate his position as the most powerful man in South Africa. However over the past few weeks we’ve heard a lot about him and the launch of the Thabo Mbeki Foundation, which is meant to deal with the implementation of policies for the betterment of Africa. Its main focus is people, to build capacity. This is his revenge.
His revenge would be of continental proportions. A legacy. In fact his revenge started long before even he knew that this would be his revenge. His “I am an African” speech, which made us all proud to be African, was a road map to his mind. If South Africa couldn’t appreciate him, then Africa would. As Jesus said according to the book of Luke 4:24, “I tell you the truth, no prophet is accepted in his hometown,” after he was rejected by his own in Nazareth where he had been brought up. This must have been how Mbeki felt. As he said in a recent interview, jokingly referring to his continental travels perhaps, “Even my wife calls me a visitor when I’m here.”
Now, now I’m not calling him the saviour of Africa nor am I comparing the man to Jesus. The man is a mere man, but his vision for Africa is not a mere vision. Mbeki is a controversial figure because he does at times hold unconventional views, the road less traveled. Some hate him for it. Some love him for it. Sometimes he is right, sometimes he is wrong, when he is wrong we throw stones at him. He is used to it by now.
According to the Mail&Guardian, the idea behind the Thabo Mbeki Foundation is to build capacity and capability to build an Africa that is capable and world class, “We felt that our weakness is people — we don’t have enough people to implement this programme of the African renewal. The foundation would, therefore, assist in developing people to implement policies.” He said. If he can own the minds that will be responsible for the renewal of Africa, surely, he will have the last laugh. He is building a future army for the betterment of the continent.
He may even be long dead or geriatric by the time the continent reaps the benefits of his programme. This reminds me Don Corleone from the Godfather, who set in motion plans that wouldn’t and could not be derailed even after he died.
By being the brains behind the plans to develop people for a noble cause, Africa’s renewal, there will be a new generation of future leaders on the continent who will lay the foundations to his legacy. His stamp on the African continent may not be realized just yet with his new venture, but it will live long after he is gone. This will be his revenge.
October 29, 2008 § 17 Comments
I am not one prone to the indiscriminate use of profanity. In fact, those who know me well will tell you that I rarely descend to this sort of level. But Julius’ ability to spew out the most outlandish statements has reduced my I.Q to levels I didn’t think possible. This is my excuse for the title of this blog. The problem with listening to some of the things that he says leaves one even stupider for having heard them. For that, he should not be forgiven. The things he says not only defy logic, but stupidity. He over compensates for his lack of intellectual curiosity with his bellicose statements, which he mistakes for coherence.
Once again, on 11 February 2009 Mr Malema did what he does best (perhaps the worst), he opened his mouth. He insulted the minister of education, Naledi Pandor, a member of his own political party, accusing her of having a fake accent. His statement could also be understood to mean that any black person who happens to have gone to a private school or a so-called Model C school all his life is using nothing but a fake accent. The only genuine accent apparently is the one he has.
Both the minister and the president of the ANCYL are eloquent individuals. However Malema is eloquent in buffoonery. As a supporter of COPE I hope and pray that he uses his substandard rhetorical abilities more frequently.
Last year he tried to insult COPE’s first deputy president, Mbhazima Shilowa, by calling him a security guard, recalling his humble beginnings. As though to say there is something wrong with being a security guard. To demonstrate his lack of foresight, he did not stop to think that his statement could be insulting to the very constituency his political party is meant to speak to. If I were a security guard why would I vote for a party that seemingly has no respect for my profession?
The sort of dangerous and frightening statements he is reported to have said on October 27, 2208 could lead this nation to genocide. To quote The Times on line, “Under Mbeki, the resources of the country were distributed to certain individuals and a certain tribe,” he said, alluding to Mbeki’s Xhosa heritage. “Not everyone benefited. But under [ANC president Jacob] Zuma we expect everyone to benefit.”
This sort of blanket statement said without an iota of evidence has the ability to incite the people of this nation into an unnecessary blood bath. Of all the things we have had the misfortune of hearing from Malema, this has to be the most dangerous, therefore it should be the most unacceptable. All senior members of the ANC should have condemned this incitement of tribalism in the strongest possible terms instead of closing ranks around him, which is their reflexive reaction.
If, as he so claimed, that only a certain tribe benefited when Thabo Mbeki was president, can he explain to us why the Eastern Cape is still the poorest province in the country? The richest black man in the country by his thinking should be from the Eastern Cape or the Western Cape for that matter. In fact, the wealthiest black people in this country should be from the Cape provinces.
If he is talking about the leadership within his party he should apply some logic, something he seems to be in short supply of. I shall help him along and give him a bit of a history lesson about his party.
Historically, the Eastern Cape is the ANC’s biggest province by membership, and has been for the longest time. (Of course COPE is changing the political landscape in leaps and bounds now.) Naturally, the vast majority of people elected into leadership positions would be from that part of the world by virtue of the Eastern Cape having the greatest number of the party’s supporters. Add the Western Cape to that number. For years, large sections of KwaZulu-Natal voted IFP. Thus the vote from that part of the world was split between the ANC and the IFP. The consequence of this is that the leadership has shown a slightly disproportionate Cape slant. One does not need to be a brain surgeon to make these deductions. In fact, one does not even need a matric.
No one has single-handedly driven young black intelligentsia from the ANC to COPE with greater ferocity than young Julius Malema. I don’t understand how and why he is allowed to carry on speaking (but as a COPE supporter I hope he is allowed to speak more often. He is our greatest election tool). The more Jacob Zuma, Matthew Phosa, Cyril Ramaphosa, Pallo Jordan and Gwede Mntashe allow him to speak, the more supporters COPE gets.
In October 2009, he was on Kaya FM. I was astonished by ANCYL president’s assertions that being a youth somehow earned him the right to be impetuous, belligerent and disrespectful. I must politely disagree (although I must admit I am tempted to disagree impolitely) with the man. Youth does not give one a free pass for foolhardiness, disrespect and impulsiveness just as maturity in years does not give one the automatic right to wisdom, level-headedness and patience.
The ANC has descended into anti intellectualism and ideological incoherence with the likes of Julius Malema. Every single young person in this country ought to be embarrassed by him. We should allow him to carry on speaking, and as young people we will speak at the ballots by voting COPE.
On behalf of COPE, I would strongly recommend that he continues to open his mouth.
*this was published last year but I deicided to updated it, thanks to Juluis’s latest outbusrst.
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, http://www.thoughtleader.co.za/khayadlanga
September 15, 2008 § 3 Comments
By Khaya Dlanga
I don’t know about you, but I prefer my leaders smart. I don’t want their intellectual capacity to be open for debate.
Even if a leader is a jackass, I want to be able to say: “Sure, he’s a jackass, but he sure is smart,” like many people thought of good ol’ Mbeki. I don’t want my leader to be making George Bush-like misstatements when he speaks in public. It fills me with a great deal of comfort when I know that my leader is significantly smarter and wiser than I am. I’ll be the first to admit that that bar is not very high, so I’m not asking for much.
I know that some people will think that I’m questioning Zuma’s intelligence. I would have to be an idiot (not that I am not) to think that he is on the slow side. You don’t become the second-most-powerful man in the land by being stupid.
I just get the sense that his top supporters don’t respect him. Or they just think that they are smarter than he is. All they respect is what they can get because of him. I can’t shake the feeling that they will discard him like used toilet paper; once they are rid of him, they will go on the hunt for some other poor soul who is hungry and desperate enough for power, for whatever reason. Unfortunately many will claim much love for him, but I suspect they would rather nurse their expensive Johnnie Walkers while he burns, since he would have achieved his purpose. For them.
I had a conversation with a former chairperson of a certain region of a certain trade union a few months ago. I will name this individual Mr Someone as he told me in no uncertain terms not to reveal his name when I told him that I was going to write a blog regarding our conversation.
It was not until I saw headlines with the Congress of South African Trade Unions contradicting statements made by Zuma that I paid attention to the conversation I had those months ago with Mr Someone.
Mr Someone shared with me the reason the leaders of the trade unions were so passionate about Zuma. He made a call to a regional chairperson, Mr Somebody, of a large trade union while he was with me. After their conversation ended, Mr Someone revealed to me that the reason the likes of Mr Somebody supported Zuma so passionately was because he was someone the trade unions could control. They did not have that luxury with Mbeki and they punished him for it. He trusted his intellect far too much for their liking.
At times I wonder who calls the shots in the ANC. Is it Phosa or Gwede? I never wonder if it’s Zuma. Perhaps he is too busy preparing for the trial. Since the conference I have never felt that Zuma is leading the ANC. I don’t buy the collective argument. My suspicion is that the leadership of the ANC does not think that he would make a good president. If anyone is a lame-duck president, it’s Jacob Zuma.
We see the lack of power in small humiliations, so small that they go unnoticed. In the future they might become more blatant. Time will tell. He is made to retract a statement here and another one there. He is forced to say he was misquoted. Can you imagine that happening to Mbeki?
If all this is true, then it fair to say that Jacob Zuma does not lead; he is being led.
Zuma is becoming a sad and tragic figure. No one can deny that he is a likable and charming man. These two virtues do not a leader make.
He fought so hard for power that when he got it, he discovered he had it in name only. He is told how to wield it. We know that he would argue and say he is a consensus leader. The truth is that Mandela was such a leader, but we knew he had power; we never doubted it. The same can be said about Tambo. Mbeki was a different story, apparently. If this is Zuma’s way of rebelling against Mbeki’s style of leadership, then he is taking it too far. He just seems weak. Perhaps that is what Mr Somebody meant when he said that Zuma is someone that can be controlled.
This is what I expect from my leader:
I want to know what my leader stands for. I don’t want to hear him say one thing today and the opposite tomorrow.
I don’t want a leader who stands just for his own survival. I want a leader who will make sure that I, along with 46-million odd South Africans, don’t just survive but thrive.
I don’t want a leader who follows the public mood, but one who shapes it.
I want a leader who will tell me what I need to hear, not what I want to hear.
I don’t want a leader who thinks that he can get away with answering tough questions by laughing. He should be arrogant enough to say, “I refuse to answer this question,” or, “This interview is over, Mr Journalist Person. Your question crossed the line.”
Zuma, man up! Be the president we know you can be. Stop trying to appease every interest group out there and take your power back!
*first published March 12th, on http://www.thoughtleader.co.za