Mbeki should have resigned a long time ago

2008-09-20 00:00

With Judge Chris Nicholson’s judgment, which threw out the National Prosecuting Authority’s charges against African National Congress president Jacob Zuma, being the talk of the country and the world, it was not surprising that Zuma took a diplomatic and non-confrontational stance by pleading with allies and comrades that President Thabo Mbeki’s government must serve the rest of his term.

When ANC Youth League president Julius “Blockbuster” Malema and his ANC alliance colleagues within the SACP and Cosatu came out with their guns blazing demanding that Mbeki be removed, Zuma took a conciliatory tone and requested that they should not beat a “dead snake”.

I have consistently said that Mbeki and his cabinet should have done the honourable thing and resigned a long time ago, and I know that he would not have done, or rather, said what Zuma said had he been in Zuma’s shoes. But again, I do not see Mbeki surviving in the strife-torn area of Nkandla and forsaking the five-star lifestyle of Tuynhuis. The man does not even go home to the Eastern Cape when Parliament closes, let alone sleep there for a night or so.

What was interesting about Zuma’s analogy of Mbeki being a dead snake is that it suggests Mbeki’s political career is as good as dead. Nicholson’s judgment also cites political interference, something that is tantamount to being a back stabber and/or a snake. Could Mbeki be viewed as a cursed snake, just like the one in the Bible?

There have been mumblings by members of the Mbeki clique that they intend to dump the ANC and form their own party ahead of the elections. I cannot help but think how suicidal this move would be, as dead as their careers are. Leaving the omnibus that is the ANC would not directly translate to scores leaving the party. Ask Bantubonke Holomisa of the United Democratic Party or even members of the Pan Africanist Congress.

No doubt, a split in the ANC would help our democracy but not the ANC, although the numbers would not be significant.

What is a pity is that those who would flock with Mbeki to form a new party (most of whom are cabinet ministers) or even join Holomisa’s UDM have been nothing more than lame-duck cabinet ministers who did not take Mbeki to task and did not question many of his bad decisions. From where I am standing, they should be held as equally accountable as Mbeki and they have only themselves to blame for the mess that this country is in.

Rightfully so, Mbeki blamed them in Polokwane for not challenging him enough on key issues, although he forgot to blame the person ultimately responsible for the government and that is himself. But again, have we forgotten that this is Mbeki we are talking about here?

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