Africa: The Other Side of the Coin South Africa: The Succession Battle for the ANC President The Bigger Picture – Part 2


By Udo W. Froese Johannesburg “How many times has the liberation movement worked together with the people and then at the moment of victory betrayed them? There are many examples of that in the world. If people relax their vigilance, they will find their sacrifices have been in vain. If the ANC does not deliver the goods, the people must do to it what they have done to the (colonial) apartheid regime …” Those were the words of former President Nelson Mandela in 1993, before he became president of South Africa. Is the ANC’s principle, “The people shall govern”, still one of the corner stones of the foundation of the ANC in 2006 and beyond? Are South Africans properly informed indeed about this “new” democracy? How far will the succession battle for president of the ANC still go? What is the price that South Africa’s ruling party, the historic peoples’ movement ANC, finally have to pay? First, a scene-setter: The stage has been set for serious conflict on senior leadership level within the ANC. In fact, the cracks became ever more obvious during the ANC’s National General Congress (NGC) held in winter 2005, when a suppressed revolt against South Africa’s head-of-state and ANC president, Thabo Mbeki, became evident. Since then a rape case was instituted against ANC deputy president Jacob Zuma. A series of “hoax e-mails” surfaced. This is in addition to a case of “fraud and corruption” against the sacked deputy president of the country. And “civil society” has already found Zuma guilty, as a merciless and relentless campaign was rolled out against Zuma. That includes the state – as well as the foreign owned and controlled media, based in South Africa and a host of fast mushrooming “human rights NGOs”. To give such a campaign some hopeful “credibility”, embedded propagandists, masquerading as “journalists” with the support of mercenary armchair “academics” have zoomed in on certain political leaders, particularly from South Africa and sub-Saharan Africa, digging up dirt daily, trying to poison the nation. This is done at the cost of any other real international news, such as for example the war-like situation in Nigeria, the war in the Horn of Africa, the ongoing wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and the tense war-of-words between the US/UK/EU and Iran. President Mbeki fired the Head of the “National Intelligence Agency” (NIA), Billy Masethla. The former NIA head stands accused to be behind the “hoax e-mails”, which according to Police Commissioner Jackie Selebi, “even posed a security threat to the country”. South Africa’s former spy chief returned the favour by serving papers on the president for “unfair dismissal”. The ANC’s National Executive Council (NEC) met recently. Above mentioned notorious “hoax e-mails” were on the agenda. Tshwane’s (Pretoria’s) daily newspaper, Pretoria News reported, ANC Secretary General Motlanthe insisted at that meeting on an independent inquiry into the “hoax e-mails”. A former provincial premier, senior ANC member and one of the former speechwriters of the late ANC president Oliver R. Tambo, Ngoako Ramatlodi, supported him. So did the Speaker of Parliament Baleke Mbete; senior ANC member and former provincial premier Mathews Phosa; the ANC Youth League and the Secretary General of the South African Communist Party (SACP) Blade Nzimande. This means, they were unanimous in their doubt of the truth of the Inspector General’s report that labelled ‘operation’ “Project Avani” as “hoax e-mails”, accusing former spy chief Masethla of being responsible for it. It poses a serious problem, as the ANC’s NEC does not seem to believe the Inspector General’s findings. He found the fired NIA head and his network guilty of conspiring and creating the “hoax e-mails”, at the same time exonerating the president and his intelligence minister. That move has blocked the alternate route to South Africa’s Constitutional Court. Those “hoax e-mails” seemed to focus on the analysis of the presidential succession debate. One of the South African based weekly newspapers Mail & Guardian had published the contents of the “hoax e-mails” in December 2005. The “official opposition” in Cape Town’s Parliament, the miniscule Democratic Alliance (DA) called for a “judicial commission of inquiry”. But, the DA and other parties in the opposition would not succeed to raise the matter in Cape Town’s Parliament and win it. The ANC has the absolute majority. Nothing significant would be found in the “hoax e-mail” saga. President Mbeki rejected calls for a “judicial commission of inquiry”, reasoning, “the legislative framework, which set out and governed the mandate of South Africa’s intelligence structures and organizations was sufficient to address matters relating to their mandate”. Second: The Struggle for ANC Presidency There is the debate over who the contenders for the position of ANC president would be, come the ANC Congress in December 2007. The battle is perceived to be between Thabo Mbeki and his ANC-deputy, Jacob Zuma. It seems that the media had deliberately and intentionally positioned Zuma for president, twisting realities in their favour, trying to get Zuma out of the race. However, the South African based media enjoys only some “credibility” among a certain small part of the population, which happens to be white and their “new black African South African middle class”. Zuma is on record for saying, “No-one is above the structures of the ANC.” This means, no one can and will be able to appoint himself/herself for any senior position in the ANC. In other words, the ANC is an institution, belonging to the people of South Africa in general. This is the old, established and traditional ANC having fought colonial apartheid for decades. Every ANC member knows this, but the media does not seem to realize it. Hence, it is not communicated to the general public. Senior members of the ANC explain, “even if Zuma wins this drawn-out legal battle, he most likely would not stand for the highest office of the Republic of South Africa. But, not only Zuma is firmly opposed to Mbeki possibly being re-elected for a third term as ANC president at Congress in December 2007.” 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 to 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.