For a few weeks ago, South Africa has gone through political turmoil that left unanswered questions in the mouths of many. South Africa is an African country that is known historically as a land of apartheid where the minority whites dominated the majority blacks for more than four decades. When talking about South Africa, many would remember a living hero Madiba Mandela the man who fought against white and black domination. When it comes to sports, its rugby team won the world cup in 1994. In two years to come, South Africa will be hosting the world soccer cup; the first such grandiose event to be organized in Africa. What can be said of South Africa? Its booming economy under the Minister of Finance Trevor Manuel and Tito Mboweni its reserve bank boss who spare no efforts to keep the life of South African easy to manage despite international financial crisis. When George Bush has injected 7 billion to keep the economy of his country on track, South Africa is doing its best to manage the inflation. What else can be said of South Africa? There are many things to be said about South Africa, especially on its diplomatic and peace deals in Africa. This has rendered to South Africa a place of prestige on the international scale.
But who is behind all this?
It can be argued that it is the work of all South Africans and their charismatic then President Thabo Mvuyelwa Mbeki, son of Govan Mbeki, another veteran of the struggle against apartheid. Many would call him the architect of this young democracy. He has been the president of South Africa for almost 14 years. A man known for his intelligence and also his stubbornness; a man who go left when others go right; a man who believes in himself and who thinks he is genuine in his views even if it requires the opinion of many. A lot has been said about Mbeki but in all, he managed to score goals than loose. A state man known by his seminal speech “I am an African” in which he embraces every aspect of South African society. Many remember him through the “African Renaissance,” a concept he popularized and in which African people and nations are called upon to solve the many problems troubling the African continent. He urges Africans to take pride in their heritage, and to take charge of their lives. The concept of “Ubuntu” and also “moral regeneration” were ideas dear to a man in quest of African identity.
But what went wrong to a man of such caliber, after 52 years of loyal services to the African National Congress (ANC) to exit the reins of power through a small gate, and without paying tribute to the immense work he did in his 52 years in ANC.
Many analysts said his folie de grandeur sparkled his eyes and prevented him to see details on the ground. Analysts said that in Polokwane, December last year, Mbeki wanted a third tenure as the president of ANC. He wanted a woman for the top job for him to continue ruling South Africa under shadow. There is that sentence within political jargon that says “keep your friend closer and your enemy closest.” As an old politician, Mbeki forgot this principle. In contrast his opponent Jacob Zuma applied this principle so often; denying several times that there was no problem between him and Mbeki. In many public speeches, he mentioned that Mbeki was the president of South Africa and he respected that. But Mbeki instead of approaching his boss, decided to keep distance knowing that the former, weakened by court charges against him was harmless. A man behind his everlasting smile backed by the trade unionists (COSATU) and the ANC youth league was able to rule out his prosecution by the National Prosecution Authority (NPA). The sour part in that judgment was the lines Judge Nicholson uttered that cost Mbeki his Job. Judge Nicholson mentioned that Mbeki had tempered in the prosecution of Zuma. For Zuma’s supporters, the judgment was seen as vindication of Zuma’s claims of political conspiracy against him. Being furious and in a position of force, Zuma had no choice to put Mbeki in front of a fait accompli by narrowing all the corners leaving a small door for Mbeki to exit power. Personal vendetta is a dish that is eaten cold. Revenge is bitter and difficult to swallow, especially on the side of the looser. The skin headed man of Nkhandla is the new boss now. Despites his charges that are hanging on him as the spear of Damocles, he appoints and sacks. The fight between the two giants of ANC is out of hand and has gone public. Mbeki wants to appeal in the constitutional court to clear his name and Zuma decided to block this to happen. Let’s wait and seen.
John Mugisa is reading his doctorate in Conflict Resolution and Peace Studies at the University of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. firstname.lastname@example.org.