Motlanthe is myopic on succession debate

2012-03-31 10:34

With elections about to hit the US, the country is abuzz with ­political ­debate, opposing political and ­economic policies, and childish name-calling.

Previously anonymous figures are now household familiars, whose names roll off our tongues. What is interesting about this “royal rumble” is the fact that all of these men belong to the ­conservative Republican Party.

This brawl unfolds before the main event, the presidential elections that will determine whether Barack Obama ­continues his tenure as US president.

But how is this at all relevant to Kgalema Motlanthe – former caretaker president, current deputy president – and the South African public?

Last Sunday saw another centenary celebration of the ANC in Tzaneen. Some supporters wore T-shirts that prominently displayed the deputy president’s face with the words “Kgalema for ­president”.

This open display of support for Motlanthe and implied defiance of Jacob Zuma prompted ­Kgalema to admonish the crowd. He asked them to refrain from personalising the leadership of the ANC and asked them an introspective ­question: “What if you are wrong?”

This question could be interpreted in a number of ways. I choose to interpret it as: what if soon after becoming president, the very same people who sang his praises, turn on him?

But more ­importantly, he expressed his wishes for the ­people to see the ANC as being the answer to the leadership question in this country, not ­particular individuals, himself included.

He, I contend, is incorrect. The leader of a party is important as an individual. He or she is the face, the voice and the representative of the party.

He or she should be someone of integrity; someone the voting populous believes will drive and see to the implementation of the policies they vote for.

The party alone cannot effect the change people wish to see and a party alone should not be what convinces an individual to cast his or her ballot.

A false comparison should not be drawn between the two contrasting political and democratic systems that rule the US and our republic.

They vote for an individual; we vote for the make-up of our Parliament, which in turn votes for the president.

It is no secret who the person would be to receive the presidency when they win the elections. That is why Zuma’s face was plastered on posters prior to our last national election.

Within the party itself, however, questions should be asked around who should lead the party and why. If there is an air of malcontent with Zuma as a leader and the masses yearn for Motlanthe’s leadership, than the ANC should assess this.

It is the masses who vote for the party and the masses should decide who leads it.

When the Americans go to the polls, the ­Republicans will know that whoever runs for the presidency is their best candidate.

That individual will best represent the will of his constituency and garner their votes. A failure on his side would see himself and his party lose ­future elections.

Thus the effort by Motlanthe to silence the ­succession debate, in line with the wishes of the rest of the party’s leadership, is myopic. If he ­deserves the seat of leadership, he should tell us why and the same applies for the rest of the ANC’s leadership.

The party does not have to split. After all, policy is policy and should effectively remain unchanged despite changing leadership.

What would change is implementation. Implementation is initiated by a person and it is about time that South Africans voted for implementation, not generic manifestoes.

More importantly, we will start thinking about who will lead the country as president before we cast our vote.

» Brooks is a talk show host for Talk Radio 702

Join the conversation! encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions. publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.