Africa News blog
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It was South Africa’s most exciting election campaign for a long time, enlivened by the split in the African National Congress and the personality of Jacob Zuma, the man who is now pretty much assured of becoming president despite the best efforts of plenty of people within his party as well as the opposition.
So far, the results don’t look too different from the pre-poll forecasts. An ANC victory was never in doubt and the battle was as much as anything about whether the party could keep its two-thirds majority in parliament, which lets it change the constitution and further entrench its power. That was still in doubt after early figures.
There was not much good news for the Congress of the People (COPE), formed by loyalists of ousted former President Thabo Mbeki. With only about eight percent of the vote so far, the question may be as much whether it survives as whether it can supplant the Democratic Alliance as the main opposition.
The DA seemed to have done fairly well with its “Stop Zuma” campaign, at least in its Western Cape stronghold, but there was no sign of it making inroads among the black majority.
The Zuma administration’s foreign policy will be determined to a great extent by the struggle to satisfy national needs and demands. These can best be understood if we take into account not only the country’s increasing level of corruption and violent crime, but also high level of expectations from the urban and rural unemployed, the poor and the working class expecting the qualitative improvement in their material conditions.
The Zuma administration will commit itself in practice to the value of continuity in South Africa’s foreign policy. Central to this tradition will be popular foreign policy objectives pursued by South Africa since the end of apartheid.
They include support for peaceful resolution of conflict on the African continent and beyond, support for the regional and continental organisations and integration as well as multilateralism. It will continue with the country’s practical and theoretical call for continental socio-political and economic renaissance or transformation.
South Africa under the leadership of Thabo Mbeki used the African Renaissance to contribute towards the resolution of conflicts in African countries conducive for the operations of its capital and the realisation of the objectives of its socio-economic policy objectives.
It regarded its active participation in conflict resolution as key to peace, security and stability in Africa. It viewed continental socio-economic transformation or renaissance as the process to be achieved through peace and stability creation and consolidation, actions against corruption and implementation of socio-economic policies conducive for the operations of foreign investment.
The Mbeki administration was reluctant to lead Africa in international relations. It called for a further integration of Africa into the global capitalist system and African solidarity and unity to fight what Mbeki refers to as global apartheid and to contribute towards an equitable world.
These two central aspects of South Africa’s foreign policy, focusing firstly on Africa and secondly on developed countries, raised high level of expectations within Africa and the rest of the world and placed its policy on grounds vulnerable to criticism from individuals with different positions and interests in its efforts to serve as a leader of Africa in its transformation and its relations with the rest of the world particularly developed countries.
These problems are a dilemma it faced in its attempts to serve as the representative of Africa to the developed countries and the representative of developed countries in Africa. This policy helped to explain why South Africa under Mbeki was unable to substantiate its declared theoretical position on African Renaissance in practice. It impelled it not to antagonise developed countries in its African Renaissance project and to seek support from weak African countries.
Under Mbeki, South Africa put itself on the level that Africa expected more than it could deliver in resolving Africa’s problems.
It pretended that it could meet requirements of this expectation. It did not substantiate Mbeki’s progressive position that its role in the resolution of the African conflicts should be guided by the struggle to achieve African transformation in the interests of the masses of the people. South Africa remained central to the consolidation of dominance of Africa by developed countries.
The Zuma administration will be a substantial and welcome addition to the struggle against Africa’s problems.
It will use the country as the regional and continental power to criticise African leaders who are enemies of their people and strive for free, independent exercise of foreign policy.
There will be a shift in the direction towards South Africa realising its potential as a centre of independent development on the African continent.
It will be under enormous internal progressive pressure to ensure that the country constitutes a strategic continental threat to the internal and external interests inimical to the interests of the continent and its people.
It’s one of the biggest ironies in South African politics — the most loyal ANC voters are often those the party appears to have let down most bitterly.
For millions of poor, mostly black South Africans, life has barely changed since the African National Congress defeated apartheid under Nelson Mandela in 1994.
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.
South 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.
For Zimbabwe’s long-suffering people, the true meaning of the signing of a power-sharing agreement between President Robert Mugabe’s ZANU-PF and the opposition MDC would be how quickly it leads to an improvement in their daily lives. An economic crisis that began in 1998 has turned the once prosperous Southern African country into a basket case economy with the world’s highest inflation at over 11 million percent. Millions of Zimbabwean’s who have fled across the borders to escape unemployment and severe shortages are waiting to see if the political deal will result in economic rebound paving the way for their return.
The agreement negotiated by South African President Thabo Mbeki provides for the sharing of power between veteran President Robert Mugabe and Morgan Tsvangirai, leader of the main opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC). Tsvangirai takes on the new role of Prime Minister with extensive powers, with Mugabe’s 28-year hold on power significantly eroded.
Jacob Zuma, the embattled leader of South Africa’s ruling African National Congress (ANC) launched a big fight for his political life on Aug. 4, asking the Pietermaritzburg High Court to dismiss a graft case against him that could stop him becoming president next year. If his application is rejected, a full corruption trial could follow later this year and South Africa could head into a protracted period of tension and uncertainty. Read the following insights from leading analysts and have your say on how the legal process could affect South Africa:
Keith Gottschalk, the University of the Western Cape (see full analysis)
“Jacob Zuma’s Zuma’s legal team has already proved, year after year that, if you have a bottomless pocket such as taxpayers, you can protract litigation, U.S.-style for the better part of a decade.”
Adenaan Hadien, Cadiz Holdings
Pietermaritzburg may well have been brought to a standstill with the resumed corruption case of Jacob Zuma in the High Court, but I suspect the same would not be true for local markets. Certainly, if last week’s market performances are anything to go by, then reactions are likely to be muted. Last Thursday, the Constitutional Court dismissed all four of Zuma’s appeals to prevent the state from using potentially damaging evidence against him in his corruption trial. On Monday, Zuma’s legal team submitted an application for a permanent stay of prosecution, arguing that his constitutional rights have been violated. This application and the round of appeals which may follow if, as is expected, it was rejected, would again delay things.
On the week, the local currency gained over 4% against South Africa’s trading partners’ currencies and bonds enjoyed gains last seen in the late-1990s. Equities put in a more mixed performance on the week, due to the oscillating woes of resources against financials and industrials. The performances of bonds were even more impressive, given the higher-than-expected consumer inflation figures released on Wednesday. Granted, Thursday’s producer inflation numbers were more encouraging.
Raenette Taljaard, Helen Suzman Foundation
ANC President Jacob Zuma’s quest for a pre-trial stay of prosecution looks certain to perpetuate uncertainty and an uncomfortable ongoing holding pattern and turmoil inherent in these dramatic events.
These compounded uncertainties do not only affect the South African economy with perceptions of political risk ratcheting up as key members of the new ANC leadership step up the rhetoric as Zuma goes to court but also creates tremors for core constitutional institutions and the bench in South Africa. After upholding the search and seizure warrants used against Zuma and rebuking his legal team for what amounts to delaying tactics, the Court also discouraged pre-trial legal wrangles of the kind that started in Pietermaritzburg.
President Robert Mugabe, MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai and a smaller MDC faction signed a framework for the talks in South Africa on Monday — a deal that South African leader Thabo Mbeki said committed Zimbabwe’s political rivals to an intense timetable.