Noisy fallout

2008-10-16 00:00

The fallout within the ANC continues to reverberate in the body politic. It is clear that the gauntlet thrown down against the party’s leadership by the former Minister of Defence, Mosiuoa Lekota, is no longer a basis for conciliatory talks. Lekota and the former deputy minister of defence, Mluleki George, have both been suspended from membership of the ANC and the party’s president, Jacob Zuma, has warned of further “radical action” against them, commenting ominously that “it’s cold out there if you are out of the ANC, very cold”. Lekota, in his turn, is pressing ahead with his suggested national convention for a reappraisal of the country’s politics.

It is important that the new faction should not be defined simply as ANC rebels. It needs to find a new name and a new shape for itself and the proposed national convention could achieve exactly this purpose. Some form of realignment of political parties in opposition to the ANC could possibly come into being. There would not be enough time for this to make a heavy impact in the general election of 2009 but it could cut back the current 70% majority which the ANC possesses in the national legislature to less than the symbolic threshold of two-thirds. This would be a healthy outcome for a multi-party democracy.

The voices of President Kgalema Motlanthe and the ANC’s treasurer-general Mathews Phosa are the saner voices within the leadership of the ANC at present. Zuma unfortunately continues to come across as a populist and a tribalist, flaunting at public gatherings the trademark song of “the 100% Zulu boy”. An absence of intellectual depth seems to foster instead the alternative device of stirring the masses. This will be self-defeating in the end but it remains alarming while it lasts. The country deserves a more restrained and dignified leadership from the ruling party.

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