Well, at least one or two plusses have emerged from the political upheavals of these past few days.
Firstly, it has been manifestly demonstrated that South Africa under black majority rule is mature enough in a notoriously volatile and democracy-shy continent, to sack its political head of State and suffer multiple ministerial resignations without any bullets being fired, without a violent revolution breaking out and without any blood (other than political) being shed.
But make no error, what we have witnessed has been nothing less than a political putsch which has had the effect of transferring real power from one faction in the African National Congress (ANC) to another, namely the faction dominated by the South African Communist Party (SACP) and Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu).
The putsch has been engineered by the ANC’s newly elected national working committee (NWC) whose members have convinced its 88 member national executive committee (NEC) to wield the axe of recall.
Is it the elected Parliament or the unelected, un-accountable and largely anonymous membership of the ANC national executive?
The answer is obvious. It is the inner circle of the ANC, the SACP and Cosatu which take decisions behind closed doors, out of public sight, and it is the ANC
Parliamentarians who, puppet-like, work hard to dance to the tunes dictated to them. The truth is that the ANC MPs are political robots whose very jobs depend on their unquestioning obedience.
Their servile performance this past week confirms this.
So, what is new? We truly have short memories. This scenario is not an innovation in South Africa. Under the apartheid National Party (NP) government, when the Broederbond or the specially constituted State Security Council passed the word, the supine NP majority in Parliament defended it and did its bidding regardless of the merits of the issue.
Brutal leadership change is also not new. It happened to John Vorster – condemned by a highly flawed judicial inquiry.
It happened to PW Botha, whose bitterness at his dismissal lingered for the rest of his life.
So what do we have? Mbeki, a largely perceived remote and unpopular President, an AIDS denialist, an anything but honest broker in Zimbabwe, a leader appointing, accepting and retaining in his Cabinet ranks and other high offices, key personnel who were and still are patently incompetent, and some, especially in his Parliamentary ranks, who were corrupt.
On the flipside, he oversaw the bringing of economic stability to South Africa, and played an important role on the world stage, bringing our country to the forefront of international affairs.
In the end result few tears will be shed at his departure. His long, heavily guarded aloofness will see to that.
But to return to the historical scenario, so it was that the plot which began to form after the dismissal of Jacob Zuma as Deputy President of South Africa slowly began to take shape.
Alliances were built.
Pitbulls like Cosatu secretary-general Zwelinzima Vavi , ANC Youth League leader Fikile Mbalula and his successor Julius Malema, were let loose and given free rein to rubbish Mbeki’s policies and insult the President himself.
The plan gathered serious momentum at Polokwane when old enemies, Matthews Phosa, Tokyo Sexwale, Mac Maharaj and perhaps even Cyril Ramaphosa weighed in to bring Mbeki down.
The Nicholson judgment virtually sealed the president’s fate.
For my money, Zuma will now probably never see his day in court, and after the next general election we will be ruled by a deeply flawed, financially ignorant, legally suspect president, a prisoner of those who propelled him into power – their demands upon him far-reaching and hard to resist.
We can expect little from the interim government other than more of the same, but after the election next year, a hopefully heavily cut back ANC must at last concentrate with serious and competent intent on the key issues which continue to blight the lives of most South Africans.
These are poverty and job creation, violent crime, corruption and the crumbling justice system, the sagging health sector, the failure of delivery at primary and secondary school levels, the continuing brain drain, and the debilitating loss of skills.
In the meantime the opposition parties, splintered and ineffective as they have been, now have time to work for opposition unity and policy agreements which will pose powerful questions to the ANC, and offer solutions to the issues which darken our land.
The ANC pretend that they have suffered no damage, but do not be fooled. Their precipitate actions have weakened their stranglehold on the electorate.
The coming period before the next election must not be wasted by the opposition parties.