President Mbeki was knifed by his own party last week. This is not unusual. For over 2 000 years, political leaders have been knifed by their parties.
But two questions must frighten all South Africans.
In modern dictatorships, in the Soviet Union Trotsky was outcast and then killed by Stalin, a fellow communist; and in Nazi Germany Hitler killed Rohm, a fellow Nazi who had helped bring him to power.
Looking at democratic Britain, Harold MacMillan, the Tory Prime Minister, sabotaged his obvious successor, R A Butler; and Margaret Thatcher was kicked out by her own party.Looking at apartheid South Africa, Botha got rid of Vorster, and in turn De Klerk got rid of Botha. Why do parties turn on their own? A mixture of policy and personal spite, with the emphasis on the latter.
Ambition, prejudice, vengeance and loathing will always outweigh political ideals wherever human beings are the players.
The triumphant Zuma faction have now axed Thabo Mbeki. This makes people like me, who dislike Mbeki on Aids, Zimbabwe and race, rather sympathetic to him.
Zuma’s menacing, arrogant, high-living supporters scare me. So here are the two questions.
First, does Zuma control his supporters or do they control him? When he comes to power (more likely than “if he comes to power”), will he show steel behind his charming facade and bring his thugs, like Julius Malema, to heel? Or will they control him?
Second, what will be the economic policies of President Zuma? Mbeki’s greatest triumph was to bring financial responsibility to South Africa. From 1994, he controlled our economy and did well to bring down debt, manage spending and give us moderate, if not high, economic growth.
Do the Zuma supporters want to get rid of him out of spite or because they want nationalisation and socialism? If the answers are that the thugs control Zuma and will make him adopt socialist economic policies, then we shall go the way of Mugabe’s Zimbabwe.
Then the poor should prepare to starve; those with jobs should prepare to lose them; the engineers and maths teachers who haven’t already left should prepare to leave now; and foreign investors should forget about South Africa.Is the tail going to wag the dog?
There is a long list of comrades who expect to be rewarded for their loyalty to Zuma.
The scary part is that this list includes the South African Communist Party, the ANC Youth League and COSATU.
We are now well and truly at the mercy of this axis of evil.