Tim Modise

Mbeki a 'cowardly dictator'?

2006-10-12 09:44

Tim Modise

The latest round of conflict between the leaders of the ANC and the tripartite alliance is causing consternation among the members and supporters as well as the nation at large.

President Thabo Mbeki, in his capacity as leader of the organisation, accused the secretary general of the South African Communist Party Dr Blade Nzimande of displaying "extraordinary arrogance" in criticising the policies of government.

The subsequent responses from Dr Nzimande and especially from labour federation Cosatu suggest that there is a major point of difference between the president as a person or with the ANC as an organisation.

Added to the ideological sniping were what amounted to serious personal attacks on President Mbeki by Young Communits League who called him a "cowardly dictator".

Prior to this were comments by Mr Ngoako Ramatlhodi, former Premier of Limpopo, that Mbeki was responsible for divisions within the organisation.

But what do these comments and accusations amount to? How are they addressing the interests of the supporter or member of the ANC? Are ANC's positions and the government's policies the same thing or do they differ on how the country should be run?

Any divisions?

Are there any divisions within the ANC and if so what is their nature? To what extent is the president personally liable and what is the position of the ANC leadership on this matter? The members, supporters as well as the nation at large would like to know what is going on within the ANC leadership? Is the battle for succession on? Is the ANC undergoing an ideological crisis?

Either there is a rebellion or a crisis within the ruling party or the nation is imagining things. The typical common refrain from the organisation's spokespeople is that the movement is united but the president of the organisation certainly does not think so, at least with regards the views of the General Secretary of the South African Communist Party and member of the National Executive.

The federation Cosatu statement suggests there are serious differences for it says it finds nothing provocative in what Blade Nzimande said on various platforms about the historical mission of the ANC. In fact Cosatu says it stands full square behind Nzimande for those are the views expressed in their latest congress resolutions.

So what are their views, then?

So what are the ANC's and government's views then? The government has produced mixed results on its performance over the last twelve years. It has largely succeeded in re-integrating the different homelands into one unitary state, it has promoted reconciliation with some success, it has stabilised the economy and set it on a growth path and has created new state machinery that is largely in line with the constitutional requirements.

Whereas the new system has given birth to a new creation, the bulky nine provinces, these have been largely inefficient and politically cumbersome to manage as evidenced by the ongoing political mudslinging there.

Whilst the economy is growing at commendable rates the expected optimism has been dampened by the escalating crime and the perceived lack of capacity by the authorities to keep citizens safe.

The provision of public services such as health and education seem to deteriorating despite substantial amounts of money being allocated to them.

The leader of the Inkatha Freedom Party says he suspects there are forces within the ANC that are bent on rendering Thabo Mbeki a lame-duck president three years ahead of the end of his tenure.

He warns that this is dangerous for the country. I speculate that given his response in his recent comments, President Mbeki wants to bring matters to a head with those promoting a socialist agenda.

In other words he wants them to declare whether they want to separate from the ANC or not. In the meantime it would be helpful that in order to quell speculation, President Mbeki or the ANC openly and frankly tells the nation about the true state of affairs within the organisation and, in order to restore confidence in the increasingly restless public, get the poorly performing departments to substantially improve delivery on the nation's justified expectations.

Without the supporters and the nation's confidence, the continuing discontent and infighting will rent "the age of hope" that Mbeki declared earlier this year asunder.

  • Tim Modise is the chairperson of the Proudly South African Campaign and hosts a weekday show on Radio 702 and Cape Talk.

  • Send your comments to Tim.

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