Dashiki Dialogues: Will Zuma succeed where Mbeki failed?

2014-06-10 12:00

Okay, so we pretty much know who’s running our country for the immediate future. Now we can look a bit further.

I’ll start by asking whether Jacob Zuma will succeed where Thabo Mbeki could not. Politically, the man from the fiefdom of Nkandla is today where Mbeki was 10 years ago.

Mbeki was in his second and last term as president of the ­country. He had won his second term as party leader at the ANC’s 2002 elective conference.

Unlike with the state presidency, Mbeki could win a third term at Luthuli House as ANC president by securing ­­­re-election in Polokwane in 2007.

In this way, he could continue ruling the country from party headquarters with a state president of his choice acting as proxy.

Last week, Zuma named his deputy, Cyril Ramaphosa, and set the scene for the road to the next ANC elective congress in 2017.

Customarily, it is expected that, towards the end of a president’s term, the ANC will have a sense of who will lead it and the country for the next 10 years.

Ordinarily, you’d assume the job would go to the deputy president, in this case Ramaphosa. Except things might not be what they used to be. By attempting to hold on to power when he challenged Zuma at Polokwane in 2007, Mbeki could have taught his former deputy to also want more than the customary two ANC terms.

The man we call Number?1 begins the road to 2017 with an interesting deputy. Ramaphosa returns to politics with business experience and an eager reception from the private sector.

As a result, much ink has been spent on how this makes him best suited to head the implementation of the National Development Plan. If he succeeds, he’ll have it as proof that he is fit to govern both party and country come 2017.

But the buffalo-buying tycoon is not trusted by Zuma’s inner circle.

It has been reported that Ramaphosa cannot be trusted to keep the lid on the spy tapes that were used to keep Zuma from prosecution.

Further, Ramaphosa’s fortunes could be weakened by those with left-leaning views in the tripartite alliance who consider him too centrist or even right-leaning.

Teachers’ union Sadtu’s Mugwena Maluleke has already said the cosy relationship between trade union leaders and business is weakening unions. Ramaphosa can’t count on left-leaning alliance partners.

And he’s not helped by appearing to side with business in the Marikana massacre. And so, he re-enters his dialogue with state politics wearing a knotted dashiki.

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