2008-05-21 00:00

As the communal violence took hold of various parts of Gauteng last weekend, President Thabo Mbeki was closeted at a smart KwaZulu-Natal South Coast venue with his International Investment Council (IIC), while ANC president Jacob Zuma was addressing a large political gathering in Tshwane. Mbeki cannot be blamed for fulfilling a long-standing commitment with financial advisers from abroad, yet it helped to convey, in an uncanny way, the comparison of style between Jacob Zuma the populist leader and Mbeki the suave strategic thinker.

Zuma found himself in a tricky situation because his trademark song Mshini wam (“Give me my machine gun”) has been adopted by some of those involved in violent confrontation with foreigners in Gauteng’s townships. Zuma went out of his way to condemn this but failed to point a finger at himself for promoting the song in the first place.

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