(NOTE: Here I am pretending to be a political analyst, so please indulge my incompetence. I am only one voter on a flimsy soapbox.)
The great Nelson Mandela was recently used as an onstage prop on the African National Congress’s campaign trail. He was aided to get on stage and off. He sat as if for a photo op. One wonders what he really thought about the whole circus.
It used to be that any word from him would hit local and international headlines. Now, nothing but silence.
Mandela has proven he can be brutally honest even to visiting dignitaries. As in the case of the broadly smiling former US President Bill Clinton who was told years ago on nationwide television something not quite subtle.
“You can jump in the fucking river! We will never abandon our friends!”
This was in reference to the US Government’s request that South Africa sever ties with Libya. Well, he did say it in Afrikaans, and meant that Clinton could keep his two-faced smile throughout the whole stately proceedings.
But unlike in previous times, Mandela has not said anything about the current South African political situation. Perhaps age has made him less able to speak his mind more freely nowadays? Or has the ANC leadership decided not to hand him the microphone at all?
Mandela’s wise words could be just what we need right now in this country before the national elections in April.
In the historic free elections of 1994, Mandela and the ANC were admired the world over. The ANC had not only the moral high ground but a set of policies that epitomized respect for human rights.
The years under Mandela’s leadership were not free of controversies and burning issues, but they were the first steps out of the dark times of apartheid. Not everyone thought South Africa could truly make it, but it did.
Thabo Mbeki had a tough act to follow. How many people can measure up to a living legend anyway? But looking back to his years as president, Mbeki’s efforts improved the lives of many South Africans through sound social and economic policies – or so perhaps we have been made to believe. And he had not a few critics, among them AIDS activists.
Mbeki was highly criticized for being too distant from the people he is supposed to serve. Despite this, one could feel that he deserves your respect.
The orchestrated events that led to the unexpected removal of Thabo Mbeki from the nation’s seat of power, showed how boldly the ANC leadership had grown in paving the way for the crowning of its party leader, Jacob Zuma. The ANC took Mbeki out of the equation unceremoniously but had the semi-decency to replace him for the meantime with Kgalema Motlanthe.
It seems that they wanted Zuma to “earn” the presidency with an expected majority vote for the ANC from the people of South Africa.
It might be beyond the belief of the ANC leadership that ordinary citizens could be outraged by this act. Thus was born the breakaway group from the ANC, the Congress of the People (COPE). Though new and untested in the amount of support it can garner in the coming elections, it is nonetheless one option for voters who crave for change and a move away from what Jacob Zuma and his supporters represent.
ANC President Jacob Zuma supporters already claim him as president-in-waiting of South Africa. They will try everything and anything to derail all efforts by the National Prosecuting Authority to take him to court for numerous charges of corruption, money laundering, and bribery among others.
Disinformation tactics through “sms texts” and claims from “reliable NPA sources” hit the news a few days ago about the possible dropping of all legal charges against Zuma. One can only guess the source of such actions.
The same Zuma supporters threw their noisy weight around the courts during his trial for the rape of a friend’s daughter. This to the dismay of rights advocates.
The ANC, with its countless dubious officials who have been found with their hands in various government funds time and again, likewise led the attack and subsequent demise of the high-level and very successful criminal investigation unit, The Scorpions.
The Independent Electoral Commission reported a huge turnout in voter registration, something unheard of since 1994. Perhaps the ANC will get a big surprise on the 22nd of April.
I haven’t decided which political party to vote for. But I am certain it won’t be for the ANC and Jacob Zuma.
Here is a very interesting article from the Mail and Guardian on the coming elections.