South Africa After Thabo Mbeki: A Lesson for Africa

September 22, 2008

I was reading an essay question set for third year students in the Discipline of International Relations a few days ago and I was amazed at how much I couldn’t fit in the question in “U.S Foreign Policy” for which it was meant (by one Larry Benjamin) without thinking of Africa.I am certain that in a series of events in global politics, Barrack Obama, Joe Biden, the Clintons, John McCain, Sarah Palin and whoever else has been in the platform of U.S politics have taken the interest of the world (represented by the (melo)drama of the media). In several months, today the world gives US politic(ian)s a break and we can now all turn our eyes towards the South of Africa. This is South Africa; a country in which the discourses of politics have been changing drastically (and scaringly so) since Polokwane. I lost it I guess; you see that is why I prefer writing poetry and chopped prose because I have a fragmented mind. Ooops ! This post was not about me but do you really think anyone would employ me as a journalist if this is how I wrote? By the way, IF( I aint sure I will ever do at the rate at which idiocy is catching up with me)I grow up I still insist I wanna be a journalist.

Sorry, I am sure I lost you but please dont stop reading because i just remembered what the US Foreign Policy question I wanted to talk about was (that was long before I became self-indulgent-though I am sure you are not surprised): “Do great leaders cause great crises or do great crises call for great leaders?”. I know, like me, you are possibly thinking of your own president (and the lucky(?) ones like Swazis and our bothers and sisters from Lesotho your kings)instead of thinking of US presidents like William ‘Bill’ Clinton, Reagan, the two BUSHES and others. It is understandable…This is Africa. It is amazing how introspective we become in the wake of unusual events in the world of politics.

Last night, the President (is it still correct to use the title?) of Africa’s America; the Republic of South Africa made a public announcement on the State owned media corporation, SABC on his resignation. You know, I am not a sweetheart of Mbeki (that doesnt make me his critic, or does it?) but I cried. I can see you asking What I have to lose anyway whether South Africa is ruled by the ANC hawks or doves (did u watch Vuyo and Gwede on SABC2 Morning Live today?). Look here, I aint sure you wanna know what was going on in my mind as I watched Mbeki tell the world (and I quote):

“I have been a loyal member of the African National Congress for 52 years. I remain a member of the ANC and therefore respect its decisions. It is for this reason that I’ve taken the decision to resign as president of the republic,”.

Where else in Africa has this ever happened? Where else in Africa is the president answerable to anyone? You see, no matter what Mbeki has done to South Africa, JZ, ANC and whoever else, the statememnt above, redeemed him. What a dignified man!! Speaking of how introspective we become in times like these, I couldnt help thinking of African political giants forcing themselves down people’s throats! Mwai Kibaki, Uncle Bob Mugabe (by the way I admire his wits and black humour), Girma Woldegiorgis and others yet they are not fireable despite the fact that they have not achieved a quarter of what Comrade Mbeki has in 9 years!!

Personally I do not know how to react to Mbeki’s exit. All I have are questions about the state of democracy in this Southern African country and the whole of Africa by extension. Could it be ‘true’ (matters of truth are so scary sometimes)that perhaps the ANC’s NEC’s firing of Mbeki was not done with the interest of South Africans at heart but the settling of internal party wraggles…At least this is what the president of Independent Democrats one Patricia de Lille thinks. Is it that Mbeki was a great leader who was only unfortunate to rule in a time of great crises or did he cause the great crises? So, without Mbeki who will be blamed on the fact that my water taps were dry this morning? Could it be that South Africa expected too much from Mbeki? Perhaps, the ANC is just going through mid-life crisis and it is high time it stopped being a movement and became a political party! Who will be blamed on ESCOM, AIDS, poverty, Crime and all the challenges that South Africans have always blamed on Mbeki? Where else shall we vent our angst, anger and frustration once Mbeki is gone? What else will eTv’s Justice Malala analyse?

Fare thee well, ntate Mbeki but one thing that bothers me right now is how much the political party structures in the rest of Africa would save the continent if they were strong and had as much power as the ANC! Nkosi sikelel’iAfrica

By the way, this was meant to be a poem!! Lol!!!

 Comments: 4

  1. Dino

    Eh? My thoughts exactly. As I was telling a friend earlier, for some people, the world just got darker. And am not just talking about Mbeki being ‘recalled’ (not even sure what this means). But the not knowing. The aggressive nature in which his removal was carried out.The uncertainty that follows.Ok, so now Mbeki is out, Mbete will act as president then? Tick tock tick tock…Frankly, it all doesnt make sense.But one thing sb said yesterday: in Africa, we are so used to presidents to hang on to power forever, that our senses are disturbed when this order of things is not followed. Gordon Brown was being asked to step down. Israel has its leadership issues, i think the PM stepped down etcMaybe it aint too bad.Its the blanket power of the ANC that disturbs me.

  2. anapolojetik

    @DinoYou see, as much as South Africans will blame Mbeki for “there is no crisis in Zimbabwe”, “quiet diplomacy” and essentially being a denialist in times of crisis; I don’t really think Kgalema Montlanthe will change these things in the six months of Mbeki’s reign. Was six months really such a long time? Like Desmond Tutu we can now ask, “Was this necessary?”. Me thinks the ANC is really losing it. Mbeki was sure that he would leave after the 2009 elections certainly. But another disturbing thing came up in the morning when Mbeki was reported to be joining the NPA to appeal on Judge Nicholson’s verdict on Zuma. I think this is a wrong move really for Mbeki because it will prove a few of several things.Mbeki has resigned in fairly dignified manner considering this is Africa as you say but meddling in the Zuma case…Eish!South Africa is a one-party state- in principle- and it is really disturbing, I agree, to watch ANC suspend the country on the precarious web of suspicious democracy.I just hope that things works out!

  3. nomusamoyo

    This Mbeki thing has really got you worried hey? I for one am not worried, I think it was a good thing recalling the president. He was a Mugabe in the making. I think S.A is going through growing pains but at the end of the day, all these checks and balances (factions and breakaway parties) are good for the country. Hopefully S.A will never have to go through power sharing deals becoz of geriatrics refusing to go into old age homes without leaving marks of their wrinkled skins all over.

  4. anapolojetik

    Nomusa, well said. Yeah we dont need strands of white hair all over the place ne? How are you and the baby? Where can you be found? Questions, questions and more questions

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