Zuma stands down from a Presidential Race he was never in. Really. Honest.

September 26, 2006

It’s quite a thing, watching the South African political landscape. South Africans have a habit of taking things at face value but we have a government where reading between the lines is a must. Moderate South Africans, especially moderate white South Africans, have been most concerned recently by the idea of Jacob Zuma as the next President of South Africa. He is viewed with fear and loathing by people who would equate him, at least inzuma2.jpg levels of ignorance and arrogance, with George W. across the pond.

He is a man who, it seems, has massive grass roots support particularily through the unions. The ANC old guard, however, are not his fans and would prefer to see a more statesmanlike, moderate person come to power rather than the boistrous frivolity that is Jacob Zuma. So he is a man who could split the ANC and it’s supporters. Not actually a bad thing for the country, thinks this jester, leaving it a three party state with parties needing to co-operate to maintain power rather than steamrollering whatever new legislative idea they have through parliament. That sounds like a proper democracy to me after wearily watching supposedly democratic two-party states like England (sorry Libdems, will change my opinion if you ever provide a Prime Minister) and the USA. It’s easier for big companies to buy off the government by backing campaigns if there are only two horses in the running. Spread betting I believe is the term.

But the ANC old guard aren’t keen on a split. They like stability. They’ve fought for their freedom and now they would like to enjoy it in comfort and who can blame them? I vaguely remember the last radical who had grass roots support and prhaps the power to split the party. Loud, abrasive and charismatic but oddly enough not someone I have heard from of late. Winnie somebody. Hang on, it’ll come to me.

So our pretender to the throne, less than 48 hours after the prosecution strangely botched the presentation of their corruption case and the judge threw them out of court for being under-prepared (albeit, with a boomerang clause) J.Z. comes out and says that he really was just pretending. He is not now and never was interested in becoming our new President and although he has the backing of Cosatu and elements of the SACP really doesn’t want his old job as Deputy president back. Do we smell a deal here?

It seems likely one was made after his address to Cosatu was, rather than an Mbeki bashing session, pretty much ANC centreline in all it’s combined intelligence and woes. I think he has learned the lesson of Winnie Whatsername who never saw the writing on the wall until it was too late and decided “if you’re not absolutely 100% sure you can beat ’em- join ’em”. With this supposed deal the ANC centreline would seem to have assured a moderate successor to Mbeki rather than risk a party split if the none-too-certain conviction of JZ had stumbled and fell. Looks like the old guard and JZ have decided to hedge-bet. Perhaps not a victory for justice but definitely a victory for intelligent thinking.

Just another day in paradise.

Zapiro cartoon post-trial

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