Sunday, September 28, 2008

Mbeki's brother speaks

It is no secret which brother inherited the brains in the Mbeki outfit and who is the true intellectual.

Moeletsi Mbeki is an extremely knowledgeable and rational man and has often not been afraid to speak up about the maladministration of the country by the ANC.

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Moeletsi Mbeki, political analyst and brother of the former president, thinks Thabo went too easily.

Do you think he should have put up a fight?
Yes. It is important that constitutional procedures are followed. There are really only two ways to remove a head of state in South Africa — through parliament and a vote of no confidence, or through an impeachment.

Wouldn’t that have been even more divisive?
I don’t think so. He is president of South Africa, he is elected by the people of South Africa. So he owes the people of South Africa an explanation.

Those who are accusing him owe South Africa an explanation. This should have been done in the full light of day, not in the middle of the night like it happened.

Is this an argument for the direct election of the president by the people?
Yes. In fact, it’s an argument for lots of changes. We are supposed to have changed our electoral system round about the 1999 elections.

There was a committee set up by the cabinet, chaired by Frederik Van Zyl Slabbert, to do that. But when they tabled their recommendations, the government rejected them. In a way, that was the beginning of this unconstitutionality.

So you think the president should be elected by the people?
After the experience of the last few days, it is very clear that we need a direct election of the president. Because then it’s not possible for political parties to destabilise the country in the way that we’ve seen.

Has the national executive committee of the ANC underestimated the consequences of its action?
As far as I can make out, the NEC, when it got those comments from Judge Nicholson, thought this gave them the licence they were looking for.

They threw caution to the wind and just dived in to get rid of the president on the basis of what really were side comments.

Is this the political solution the Jacob Zuma camp wanted?
Probably they think so, but I don’t think so. The National Prosecuting Authority is appealing Judge Nicholson’s judgment, so there is still a long road ahead.

Does the decision to make Kgalema Motlanthe interim president rather than, as expected, the speaker, suggest a change of heart about a Zuma presidency?
I doubt it. Zuma has invested so much in becoming president of the country, and his followers, such as Blade Nzimande and Zwelinzima Vavi, have made a huge investment in him being president.

Do you think they’ll call the shots in a Zuma presidency?
I think we’re heading for more difficulties there, because Kgalema said he was going to pursue the same policies.

Cosatu has been opposing the economic aspect of those policies. Zuma has been going around saying he is going to pursue the same policies. So we are really, in a way, at the beginning of our problems.

We could see a new conflict, which will be between the Zuma administration and Cosatu.

Was the collapse of the rand on the announcement of Trevor Manuel’s resignation a healthy lesson for the ANC leadership?
I hope it had that effect, but I think they should read economic textbooks rather than learn through endangering the livelihoods of millions of people.

Does the reappointment of Manuel signal a commitment to leave economic policy unchanged, or is it just a temporary calming of the waters?
I think it’s a signal to leave economic policy unchanged, and also a signal to Cosatu — it hasn’t got the power over the government it imagined.

Is this the beginning of the end of the ANC?
The ANC has very deep structural problems. The ANC is an old organisation, but South Africa is a new social system.

So we have an emerging social system that is leading to all sorts of new social groups, such as the black middle class and the black professionals who were not there before.

And at the top end we have huge inequalities emerging among the blacks in this country that were not there before. So there is huge movement in society, and I don’t think the ANC has begun to comprehend what is happening.

So, in a way, it is being left behind by society.

How will this play out at the polls?
It will play out at the polls because a huge number of the black middle class are very unhappy about what’s going on in the ANC. I think we could see reduced participation by the electorate.

On a significant scale?
Probably. Because what has been going on is quite frightening for many people.

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