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S.Africa Election: Zuma’s enigma

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Professor Thandwa Mthembu is Vice-Chancellor and Principal of the  Central University of Technology, Free State. He writes in his personal capacity.

Based on current information on Jacob Zuma’s beliefs, ideas and practices, what are the prospects for his soon-to-be installed administration in South Africa?
My overall thesis is that Zuma is no less enigmatic than former President Thabo Mbeki, his old rival.

But Zuma is more eclectic in thinking and approach. Books have been written about Mbeki’s enigmatic character. But, one thing certain in the socio-economic governance and administration model he ushered in is that he exhibited neo-liberal and pro-capitalist inclinations that made him appear dogmatic and monolithic. This is evident in his macro-economic policy, Gear. It is also evident in his micro-economic policies. BEE policies, for example, were designed to create a new black middle class and “filthy rich” black people, too.

I believe Zuma is no less enigmatic; but is progressively eclectic. At the personal level, whilst he is incontrovertibly traditionalist, he mingles with the Church, modernists and the like, effortlessly.
Zuma has a deep sense of respect for elders, which is, ironically, an integral part of our moral values. Even though Archbishop Tutu has expressed resentment of Zuma as a person, the ANC leader has avoided any retaliation. That is a marked contrast to Mbeki’s response to Tutu’s criticisms of ANC practices in 2004 (not Mbeki himself) – the then president branded the Nobel peace laureate a self-serving ignoramus, a liar and a populist.

S.African Election: Democracy in tatters?

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William Gumede is the author of “The Democracy Gap: Africa’s Wasted Years” and ”Thabo Mbeki and the Battle for the Soul of the ANC”.

South Africa votes on 22 April with not only its globally admired efforts to build democracy in tatters, but against the backdrop of many other promising attempts to build viable democracies across Africa now backsliding.

A cloud over Zuma?

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Corruption charges against Jacob Zuma have been dropped, as expected. It’s not an acquittal, the prosecutors said. The ANC leader will have to go back to court for the charges to be formally withdrawn.

Even when they are, critics make the point that a cloud will still hang over the man expected to become South Africa’s next president.

Stumbling block for the Pharaohs?

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Egypt might have won the last two African Nations Cup tournaments but the Pharaohs seem to have hit a stumbling block when it comes to the World Cup.

For all their prowess at the last two continental championships, and their glittering array of successes at club level, Egyptian soccer is becoming increasingly haunted by the spectre of continued failure to make it to biggest footballing showpiece of them all.

Did Dalai Lama ban make sense?

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Organisers have postponed a conference of Nobel peace laureates in South Africa after the government denied a visa to Tibet’s spiritual leader the Dalai Lama, who won the prize in 1989 – five years after South Africa’s Archbishop Desmond Tutu won his and four years before Nelson Mandela and F.W. de Klerk won theirs for their roles in ending the racist apartheid regime.

Although local media said the visa ban followed pressure from China, an increasingly important investor and trade partner, the government said it had not been influenced by Beijing and that the Dalai Lama’s presence was just not in South Africa’s best interest at the moment.

Time to drop Zuma charges?

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South African prosecutors are considering a legal request by ruling ANC leader Jacob Zuma to drop the graft charges against the man who is expected to be the next president after the elections in April. Zuma has always denied any wrongdoing and his followers say the charges were politically motivated.

A decision to drop the charges would give the African National Congress a big boost ahead of what is expected to be the most closely-contested poll since apartheid ended in 1994. It would also remove a major distraction for Zuma in office and the prospect of court appearances that could tarnish South Africa’s standing abroad.

What next for Jacob Zuma?

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A court ruling that effectively reinstates corruption charges against African National Congress leader Jacob Zuma could hardly have come at a worse moment for him and the party that has dominated South Africa since the end of apartheid.

There appears little doubt that Zuma will be the party’s presidential candidate ahead of elections expected around April, but the ANC now faces its toughest electoral test yet with hefty graft charges hanging over its man.

How far will South Africa’s ANC shift?

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Given that the leaders of the world’s most firmly capitalist countries are splashing around unprecedented billions to nationalise banks, prop up industry and try to get economies moving, it might seem churlish for anyone to question South Africa’s ruling ANC for planning to spend a bit more freely.

This weekend, the African National Congress set out its election manifesto priorities of creating jobs and improving education and health – promises interpreted by many as marking a generally leftward shift under the leadership of president in waiting Jacob Zuma.

from Global News Journal:

Should the ANC be worried?

There was jubilation, defiance and a sense of history in the making in this farming community this week when some 4,000 South Africans gathered to lay the groundwork for what may be a seismic shift in the political landscape.

It is too early to say whether the birth of the Congress of the People will be the political equivalent of an earthquake or a minor tremor. But there is no denying that the new political party caught the nation's attention with the inaugural conference in Bloemfontein.

Motlanthe greeted with relief, but South Africa’s problems are not over

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Kgalema Motlanthe takes the oath of office as South Africa’s president in Cape TownSouth Africans have widely greeted new President Kgalema Motlanthe, many of them with a sense of relief after the bitter and divisive power struggle between his ousted predecessor Thabo Mbeki and Jacob Zuma, leader of the ruling African National Congress.

Motlanthe, quiet spoken and dignified, struck exactly the note the public were looking for when he took office, sober but smiling gently – a huge contrast to the theatrical ebullience of Zuma and the aloof, intellectual style of Mbeki, who was seen as arrogant and out of touch with his people.

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