Mhambi has been redeployed.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

We are marching to Polokwane, Polokwane

Mhambi has a "lied is sy hart" this morning. Not entirely sure why I'm so lyrical, but perhaps its because I'm in lovely South Africa and the paradoxical jittery energy induced after a bout of too much red wine last night.

This week after having read After the Party my suspicions that a Zuma presidency could do the country some good was roundly confirmed.

And today Steven Friedman and Sipho Seepe lifted my already good mood with two articles in the Business Day (Weird how South Africa's best social journalism comes form a business newspaper).

In an article tittled The open contest nobody could stop Friedman muses about the good that this open content is doing us, "...unless someone in the ANC leadership pulls a last-minute rabbit out of the hat, next week will see the first contested election for ANC president in 58 years — for the first time since we became a democracy, the leader of the governing party will have been chosen not by other leaders but by those to whom that person is responsible.


This country achieved democracy partly because adversaries who realised that they could not eliminate each other accepted that their best interests lay in negotiating democratic rules. The rules were not anyone’s first choice, but not only have leaders learned to live with them — they now enjoy wide public support.

This is not unique to SA, or even unusual — leaders often settle on democratic rules because they are the best way of adjusting to realities they wish were otherwise. So misgivings about the presidential race inside the ANC may not prevent it becoming a watershed. ANC insiders who lament an open contest may later look back on it fondly as the time when the principle of open elections was established. Even if they do not, they may find that the contest for members’ votes which they failed to avoid this time becomes the only conceivable way of doing things in future."

In another article Chance for SA to recommit itself to democracy Sipho Seepe, lays into the ANC's culture of intolerance and the corruption of the Mbeki regime. Polekwane is to him a chance to reassert our liberty.

"WE ARE led to believe the ongoing bloodletting in the African National Congress (ANC) is somehow alien to the party.

Far from it, this is a consequence of the ANC’s culture of intolerance and its insatiable appetite for power. The culture can be traced as far back as the 1980s when the ANC sought to entrench its political hegemony.


Mandela was labelled an agent of the pharmaceutical companies when he called on the government to roll out antiretroviral medication to pregnant HIV-infected women. Cronin was told that the ANC did not need a white messiah. Similarly, Tutu was branded a liar and a creation of the white media.

The bloodletting we see is a case of chickens coming home to roost. The ferocity of the attacks is fuelled by the scramble for resources and the corrupting patronage that has become a defining feature of the Mbeki regime. We mistakenly overrated the ANC’s democratic credentials by equating the struggle for democracy with a commitment to democracy.

The declaration by ANC parliamentarians that the Zimbabwean elections were fundamentally free and fair despite the state-sponsored terror preceding them should have sent warning signals. The ANC is not beyond resorting to similar undemocratic practices should its political power base be threatened.

The deployment of ministers, state resources and state organs in a last-ditch attempt to preserve the status quo should come as no surprise. The vulgarity of ministers carrying bags of money to buy votes speaks volumes about the investment attached to the Mbeki project. is not uncommon for leaders to be asked to recuse themselves from office once they have suffered defeat. PW Botha was replaced by FW de Klerk when his party lost confidence in him. The same happened to Margaret Thatcher and recently to Tony Blair. Only those who fear democracy can advance such baseless notions that removing Mbeki would be undemocratic.

Democracy involves fundamentally changing the guard. SA should not short-change itself in its embrace of the democratic project. We need to remind ourselves — the price of freedom is eternal vigilance."


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