Mr Ambition

2010-09-04 10:12

Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe will be a great president one day. With wisdom and experience, he has the temperament and fibre to lead South Africa.

He possesses the best of former president Thabo Mbeki in that he is an intellectual leader with an interest in and love for ideas.

And he possesses the best of President Jacob Zuma in that he has a populist touch, knows how ­important the grassroots are and knows politics inside out.

But Motlanthe can also be wily and expedient and work against what is best for the country.

At last week’s national general council of the ANC Youth League, he took a populist position when he told the young guns that they were right to insist on their autonomy from the ruling party.

This was like manna to the league’s president, Julius Malema, who is smarting from being disciplined by the ANC for his populism and demagoguery.

His revenge is an attack on the party’s secretary-general, Gwede Mantashe, who brought the charges.

While Motlanthe knows that in the Neanderthal politics of the ANC he needs the league, in one fell swoop he undermined any effort at bringing it into line while setting it up for an unseemly battle with the left.

The deputy president should not risk political stability at the ­altar of his ambition.

He is bigger than that.

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