Chris Moerdyk

Essential qualities to become president of SA

2012-07-09 08:02

Chris Moerdyk

The rest of this year is going to be really exciting here in sunny South Africa, as the population tries to guess who the next president will be.

It will be fun and games as we watch senior ANC presidential hopefuls trying to curry favour with those who will elect them, while at the same time denying that they have any intention of running for the top job.

Speculation will run rife and given the ANC's penchant for doing everything with a complete lack of transparency, the media will once again have to resort to quoting third-hand titbits from insiders which will inevitably result in ANC bigwigs complaining bitterly about inaccurate media reports without realising that inaccurate media reports are the direct result of the ANC not telling the media anything on just about any subject that affects the lives of every man, woman and child in South Africa.

Anyway, a recent dinner table conversation at my home about the qualities and prospects of a number of ANC top cadres inevitably resulted in a discussion about which candidate would be the best for the economy, the country, employment, the poor, education, healthcare and keeping death off the roads.
There were a number of names that inspired a bit of faith around our table. Sexwale, Gordhan, Manuel, Motsoaledi, Ramaphosa to mention just a few.

Qualities required

But ultimately, the conversation turned away from who we would like to see as the next ANC president to what qualities were required to be elected as the next ANC president.

This is the way we saw it.

The successful candidate must demonstrate that he or she...

1. Will not make decisions on their own without first getting the approval of the ANC National Executive Committee because, after all, the ANC operates by collective decision-making.

2. Will not make any statement without first consulting the NEC because after all, the ANC operates by collective decision-making.

3. Will not act, indicate or even hint at anything without first consulting the NEC because after all, the ANC operates by collective decision-making.

4. Will never EVER make any attempt to travel on a commercial aircraft otherwise the military will get really annoyed at the usurping of its powers to determine precisely how the president will travel from place to place. They will complain to the NEC which will then give said president a yellow card for not consulting the NEC about travel plans. Because the ANC operates on collective decision-making and it was collectively decided that the military would be in charge of all presidential air travel arrangements.

5. Will never EVER just hop into a car and drive somewhere without a brigade of bodyguards preferably flashing blue lights and pointing AK47's at littlke old ladies who don't get their Mazda 323's out of the way fast enough. Otherwise the SAPS VIP  protection services people will run to the NEC and complain.

6. Will at all times confer with the NEC on everything and never EVER give even the most vague impression that he or she possesses even the slightest degree of autonomy regarding everything from the choice of presidential jet to the colour of lav paper in the presidency and what colour tie and/or hat to wear when having to meet Helen Zille.

7. Will at all, times be extremely mindful of what happened to Thabo Mbeki who made the mistake of believing that he was the boss without first having got the permission NEC to be the boss.

8. Will never EVER, EVER bring up the old adage about a camel being a horse designed by a committee.
So, the conclusion is that it doesn’t actually matter who is elected the next president of the ANC and subsequently of South Africa.

Who runs SA?

Because the president of South Africa is not the boss but just someone who is allowed to say and do what a committee called the NEC allows him to say or do.

But, can one say that in effect, South Africa is run by a committee called the ANC NEC which in turn operates on a collective decision-making basis ?

Actually, said one of the people at my dinner table, that would be misleading because in his opinion, South Africa isn't run by the ANC or its NEC but by Cosatu.

Hmmm, now there a thought.

And given his track record for fighting e-tolling and the protection of information bill, Zweli Vavi would probably be a good choice for president. At least he is his own man and seems to be allowed to not only speak his mind but openly criticise his party-political bedfellows.

Otherwise Steve Komphela is looking for something to do.

 As you can imagine, at this stage of the dinner party at my home,  the excess consumption of alcohol led to an inevitable degeneration of intellectual conversation.  A bit like what happens at party political policy committee meetings.

- Follow Chris on Twitter.

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