Koketso Moeti
Koketso Moeti

Why Motlanthe?

The road to Mangaung has revealed a lot, not only about South African politics but our society as a whole. Many seem to be looking outside themselves for solutions to our problems — waiting for a saviour to “fix” things. It’s almost as if we fear being a part of the solution. Or rather, we choose the politics of redemption because we fear being held accountable for our action/inaction.

The “Anyone but Zuma” camp and recent anti-Zuma tirades filling the social networks and mainstream media evidence this.

Jacob Zuma did not wake up in the morning and decide to make himself president of the ANC and of the country. He secured an impressive 2 329 votes to gain the seat that sealed his presidency. To many, he was touted as the messiah of South Africa. The man who would save us from the “autocratic” and “distant” Thabo Mbeki. Led by their deep hatred of the Mbeki regime, many campaigned extensively to ensure Zuma was elected. They were so focused on Mbeki’s flaws that very few bothered to really give thought to the flaws of his successor.

In 2012 we find ourselves with the same script — only different faces. Once again we have campaigning, not because of what someone has to offer but merely to remove another. Kgalema Motlanthe is the man being touted as the messiah this time.

Motlanthe was elected as secretary-general of the ANC in 1997, a position he held until 2007 when he assumed office as the organisation’s deputy president. Apart from that, Motlanthe has also held the position of minister without portfolio, as well as that of president. Then on May 9 2009 he assumed office as deputy president.

A full description of the responsibilities of the deputy president as per the Constitution is provided on The Presidency’s website eg “to support the president in executing the mandate and functions of government”. He is also appointed to provide leadership in creating a developmental state, fostering social cohesion and is also responsible for selected Cabinet committees — most notably, governance and administration.

The above are but a few of his responsibilities, which makes it odd that he seems to be exonerated from the failures of the current regime.

Beyond being “reserved”, “an intellectual” and a man who some believe “inspires trust”, I have yet to hear a single valid reason as to why he should be put in a position that could see him become president. We need somebody that will lead by example, spearhead policy reforms and more. Over and above all that, a leader with integrity is needed to restore not only the image of the country but also the respect of the highest seat in the country. I deeply question if Motlanthe can offer this. If the Zuma regime is as corrupt as it’s said to be, surely his second in command is also tainted by virtue of being in the same administration.

This is also a man who played a huge role in ensuring the current administration came to power. And lest we forget, this is the same man who publicly defended Zuma in the face of corruption allegations after he was fired by Mbeki as the country’s deputy president in 2005. The very same corruption charges the anti-Zuma brigade now so blatantly raises.

Like many others, I don’t believe Zuma is fit to govern South Africa. But I am also not convinced of Motlanthe’s ability to do so.

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    • Zeph

      I agree with you. Motlanthe’s is part of this ‘cabal’ – beyond that I need to ask; “Who the hell is he?” He does not state his position, intent or beliefs…to me that makes him either dangerous or innocuous..and neither are any good.

    • DeeGee

      Interesting. So who would you put forward as a likely candidate?

    • Lennon

      Who in the ANC’s senior circles is not tainted by Zuma in one way or another?

      I ask because I don’t believe that everyone at the top is necessarily on the take. It wouldn’t surprise me if there are some who are afraid that doing their jobs would see them on the street (or dead, in the case of some KZN ANC officials).

      As former head of the ANC’s intelligence wing, Zuma cannot be the fool that many think he is. I would say that, if anything, Zuma is highly intelligent (don’t forget that he got plenty of tutoring from other ANC members while he was incarcerated on Robben Island) and quite capable of pulling strings to get his way. It wouldn’t surpise me if he has used his experience as an intelligence operative to reign in anyone who opposes him since he would, undoubtedly, have all sorts of dirt on people within the ANC – especially those at the top.

    • Tofolux

      @Koketso, I wonder if we as Sans actually understand democracy. Even after all the death, pain, fear, loss,barbaric inhumanity etc, can we claim that we understand this democracy? If we claim that our democracy is undeniably young, do we still claim ignorance of such painful passage to this right. Looking at ALL the discussions on Mangaung NO ONE breathes a word of the important policies that will be ratified at this very Mangaung. And if we are serious about Mangaung, those policies will have an effect on ALL our lives. But noting how trivial, how patronising and how undemocratic these discussions are, is it any wonder why we have such a of lack respect and tolerance towards each other. If you look at the other elective conference of a mere opposition party this wknd why no questions? Not one word about any fault lines. How can that be? In fact its laughable. We cannot deny that our Dep Pres was the target of a smear campaign and we cannot deny that the aggressive smear campaign of the President is beyond reason. The irony though, is the ones who raises questions about the ruling party,never raises questions about these undemocratic assaults in particular. Clearly there is acceptable behviour but when unacceptable behaviour now has a place in our society, who says ”NOT IN MY NAME” Members of the ruling party will exercise their powers as bequeathed them by the dreams of democracy by THEIR fallen heroes and comrades. Why cant you and others respect that right?

    • Andrew Pullen

      Fair observation, but you are also not recommending someone. Is this evidence of inaction?

    • The Creator

      From what little I have seen of Motlanthe, he appears to be the best of a very lousy bunch. He is probably less egotistical than Sexwale and less corrupt than Ramaphosa, and obviously he is preferable to Zuma. (If he is actually able to break away from Zuma’s legacy.) Of course he played a major role in damaging the ANC during the 2005-2007 period by refusing to implement disciplinary proceedings against those of Zuma’s followers who discredited the organisation, and that suggests that he is not really trustworthy.

      But it is sad that we are reduced to the situation of hoping that the guy who is slightly less of a crook than the rest somehow shambles into power. Back in the day we had leaders who had vision and ability. Now all we can hope for is someone who does less damage than Zuma has done.

    • http://www.thoughtleader.co.za/koketsomoeti Koketso Moeti

      @Zeph, I am inclined to agree with you. As far as I am concerned, he make ‘look’ and ‘behave’ the part- but he is very dangerous as one who is content to just patiently wait and see which side to be on, which is often where his bread is buttered , so to speak…

      @DeeGee, no-one since I am not a member of the ANC. However, as a South African whom this decision could and most probably will affect, I would say that it’s time to end with the politics of redemption…

      @Lennon: Interesting enough, Zuma had nothing to do with Motlanthe’s tainting. In 2008, when the allegations were made with regards to his role in the R800mil Land Bank loan- it was entirely him. The anti-Zuma passions seem to have us rather eager to blame the man for others transgressions, I find. Thing is, we are so anti-Zuma that we fail to realise that a discreet crook is as much a crook as he- not that I’m suggesting that anyone is a crook, of course 😉

    • http://www.thoughtleader.co.za/koketsomoeti Koketso Moeti

      @Tofolux, I presume myself to not be infringing on anyone’s rights with this piece. Who is elected to that seat will affect me, should (and it’s very likely) the ANC win the next presidential elections. So I would prefer it if that person was not elected on whim, but based on what he has to offer the country. Interesting enough, that is exactly what I am pointing out- that there is a smear campaign against Zuma. I mean, why else would he be blamed for everything when governance and administration clearly fall within the responsibilities of the Deputy President. If you are not sure what those are, please do read the constitution and the responsibilities as outlined on the Presidency’s website.

      About ignoring the policies, how can I not when members of the party itself are more focused on personalities rather than those policies you mention. If you have read any papers in the last 3 weeks, you will notice that every member of the party being interviewed is talking about who their branch is endorsing and nothing more. Surely you don’t expect me as a member of no political party to raise internal affairs on behalf of any party?

    • http://www.thoughtleader.co.za/koketsomoeti Koketso Moeti

      @Andrew, this is a part of my form of action- raising questions which hopefully see a leader elected not based on whim and an urge to get someone out- but because of their integrity and what they have to offer SA as potential president 😉

    • DeeGee

      @ Koketso. I posed the question as one South African to another. As you rightly point out, whether we vote or are members of the ANC or not, this “leadership” contest does affect us.

      I always felt Cyril should play a more public role, given his very public role at the negotiation table. I’d like to see him step up….

    • ian shaw

      Why is the unmasking of Zuma’s self-serving efforts labelled as a “smear campaign”? In my mind, whatever happens in government, the president is ultimately responsible, i.e. the buck passes at his desk. This is especially true if he does not contest any wrongdoing on his watch.

    • http://thoughtleader.co.za/koketsomoeti Koketso

      @DeeGee, I would have liked to see Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma take it. The woman has shown herself time and time again to have incredible leadership skills, integrity and a number of other qualities that I think are befitting for a president to possess. Too bad the ANCWL couldn’t even push that agenda…

      @Ian, no doubt that he should be more vigilant. But it does strike me as odd to solely blame him and exonerate Motlanthe, when both are clearly guilty of erring.

      About the smear campaign, well in covering Zuma’s ‘wrongs’ most people lost and still lose sight of the ball and attack the player. It annoys me especially when it’s done using particular racial stereotypes. Nevertheless, it has contributed well to his cause for a second term, because it allowed for him to play victim very often- and rightfully so, if I may add…

    • Tofolux

      @Koketso, it therefore makes you a speculator of note. If you are not in govt or have no inkling about any of the work being done in portfolio committees of parliament, if you have not taken the time to note the work of Scopa in Parliament, then how can you generalise and blame JZ? In fact, if you were to note the work of all in Parliament, I think you would understand what a ruling party does when it rules. I also ask you to not only throw the Constitution but to be mindful of all governance laws, legislation, procedures and processess in Govt. If our State at this point in time, is not a failed State (becos of the President, ok thats preposterous) then where are you sitting between failed and not failed. Secondly, I cannot understand how you can accuse members of the ANC of being besotted with leadership issues. How would you then explain where the policies come from? Branches and members are responsible for proposals, strengthening, rejecting etc for policies. These are captured locally, regionally, provincially. Not only to members have to caucas for their positions on policies, they eventually need to reach consensus. If all members did, was talk abt leaders then I am at a loss as to how all policy matters have emanated. But what is amiss in your demand, is that you sit outside an organisation and demand that you have a right in what they determine.

    • Tofolux

      CONTINUED….If that is sobre thinking, then this discussion will not be fruitful. But in saying this, there is nothing wrong with pointing out weaknesses and we must all claim that we do have something to learn most times, but to be belligerent when you are drawing your information from biased newspapers and conclude that your analysis is balanced once again proves Frantz Fanon points on middle-classism and their denialism on their role and relevance in society. The performance of govt is well documented eg credit crunch, performance of our state in AU, in Bricsa in UN our influence in Sudan, our influence in South-South negotiations, our stance on food security, our stance on climate issues, our hosting of world-class events etc. It is a sad day when foreigners congratulate our country for some of our huge successes whilst locals are extremely negative. Lastly, members of the ruling party has always applied their minds when electing their leaders. Nelsona Mandela has also said that he is a member of a collective and comes from a collective. But this Americanism of idolising individuals is wrong. Hence this mooting of choosing our leaders through Americanism if fraught and will not work in Africa. Instead exhausting topics aimed at appeasing the middle-class, try a new subject and talk about democracy for Africans. Talk about democracy that respects our morals and our ethics mindful of african traditions and values.

    • Wiseman

      The author makes a great point but leaves me with only one conclusion: there is no-one in the ANC that can make a difference because the ANC is corrupt and rasict to the core. In the next elections, vote for the opposition – any opposition. And yes, I am aware of the irony in that.

    • The Creator

      Tofolux, you say, rightly, that idolising individuals is wrong. But Zuma has campaigned on being the 100% Zuluboy and on being the victim of mythical smear campaigns. He chose to personalise the issue. It would be much better if we could base our performance analysis on real policy issues — but unfortunately nobody is running on policy issues any more, all that went out with Mbeki (whose government was largely responsible for the successes which you cite, by the way).

      The only guy who ran on policy issues was Julius Malema, and look what happened to him!

    • Tofolux

      @Creator this is where I think some of us lose this argument when we debate issues of organisation and issues of an individual. Is it a symptom of political immaturity that we are unable to recognise the seperation? Also, I wouldnt have expected dishonesty from you. All ANC policies are on their website, this is evidenced by a timeline of a discussion document, to a proposal, to a debate for consensus, to a policy conference to ratification which will happen at the conference in Mangaung. Also, are you serious when you say that the proposal at UN that security and veto votes are unconstitutional and our Dlamini-Zuma chairing the AU. Yoh you guys are biased. Can we at the very least have an honest discussion debating issues such as this and lay our cards on the table without resorting to predisposed positions. Can you put a question with a premise and conclude, objectively. Lets try, we can all learn from having a fruitful debate and discussion. Its just doesnt make any sense having a discussion in a vacuum. One must be influenced by facts at least. Can you at least put and consolidate your position based on facts?

    • Lennon

      @ Koketso: While Zuma may not have tainted Motlanthe directly, Motlanthe has not done himself any favours by keeping silent over Zuma’s shenanigans.

    • Colin Drew

      Koketso, I agree with your comments and mostly for the same reasons.

      The ANC has shown itself to be all powerful where toeing the party line becomes the only virtue possible. This is one of my concerns around Motlanthe – as with most of the old guard specifically, he is a party man first. This stifles imagination and innovation which is the possible reason for a lack of clear leadership and vision you have highlighted.

      I believe many bright young lights will become disillusioned with this style of control within the ANC.
      This behemoth is too consumed by internal wrangling to give much thought to the future of the larger stage. This is evident in the almost total collapse of education in many areas. Education is the one thing that can really bring about meaningful reform.

      The ANC has perfected the buddy system of the Broederbond and again as a result of limited opposition, democracy cannot flourish. The more things change …

    • mthabisi

      @The Creator.Cyril Ramaphosa,corrupt how?you spewing a lot of bile & ignorance.learn to have a analytical & critical mind.

    • DeeGee

      @ Koketso. What about Frene Ginwala? Other than perhaps her age….?

    • TheCue

      I think Koketso should stop responding to these comments. Girl, just post your opinion, sit back and relax…

    • The Critical Cynic

      The ANC have no real leaders in the true sense of the word. Mandela was a leader, no doubt about it, and even those [white, coloured, indian and black] who oppose the ANC in its current guise acknowledge and recognise this fact. Mbeki was also a leader, understandably less capable charismatically, but nevertheless capable and prepared to stand by his beliefs (even if they were wrong).
      Zuma however, is wishy washy and would only be able to lead his party if they allowed him to – oh, hang on, that’s what happened, they said we’ll let you lead as long as you become completely indefinite and lack decisiveness, that way we can collectively take the country just about anywhere we choose. Oh, and Zuma knew that’s how it would transpire – any attempt by him to lead it in another direction would have gained him the same fate as Mbeki. The precedent has been set, and now it’s unofficial ANC policy…

    • MLH

      I would see Motlanthe as the lesser of two evils, being sorry people are reduced to only one choice. But I see no others who appear less evil.
      Dlamini-Zuma was safely removed from the contest, which I found sad, but it seems the ANC women stick up for no women these days anyway.
      Frankly, the ANC collective is proving such a disappointment that I find it difficult to believe that anything other than its outright defeat would be a disaster I expect to have to live with.
      Great piece, by the way, Koketso.

    • https://www.facebook.com/tsietsi.mothupi Thups

      I really enjoy reading your columns, they are thought provoking. Thank you for keeping us talking.

    • http://africa.com Bikoan Thinker

      Is it not time that we have a non-Nguni President? Yes! I said it!

      We have had presidents and prime ministers that are English, Afrikaner, Xhosa X 2 and Zulu.

      If the ANC is Church for all people, let it allow a non-Nguni be elected to the presidency of the country. And Kgalema Motlanthe is at the door. Just open it for him. Or best he must open it for himself.

      It’s tribalism? No. Democracy!

    • Gareth Setati

      Thank you for raising this important discussion…

    • Sterling Ferguson

      @Tofolux, I would like to remind you that SA is not a democracy because the people have no voice in how the parties are run in the government. There were no party primaries to let the members chose a candidate for their parties nor were there inter parties debates. In SA nobody is elected to office by the people and accountable to the people so, it’s a fake democracy. The political parties in SA are run by kingmakers and the people have no voice in the government. The members of parliament you talked about were not elected by the people and accountable to the people so, who are these people serving?

    • Sterling Ferguson

      @Creator, what one sees going on in SA is a fake democracy like what went on in China a couple weeks ago. The people have no voice in electing a president in SA by the ANC or the DA. The people in the government are doing whatever they want and the people can’t remove them from office.

    • Sterling Ferguson

      @Tofolux, you are always quoting Fanon, Fanon also said that the African leaders were more repressive than their colonial masters.

    • Tofolux

      @Sterling/Berry, please elevate your debate to something substantive. I mean, can you possibly articulate a response to the debate that is put?

    • Sterling Ferguson

      @Tofolux, the only debate there should be is giving the people of SA a voice in the government, by allowing them to direct elect the people making decisions, about their lives. You are going around in circles by throwing big words around and not addressing the problem the author is talking about.

    • jandr0

      @Tofolux: You ask Sterling/Berry to please elevate their debate to something substantive.

      I hardly think you can get more substantive than Sterling mentioning that Fanon said that the African leaders were more repressive than their colonial masters.

      Now THAT is a substantive issue. Is Fanon correct or not? Is the whole Zuma / Motlanthe issue just a side-show to the possibility that, whatever the outcome, Fanon’s statement will still apply, and we will all be no better off?

      is it possible that the top leadership is slowly getting South Africans to regard them as “untouchables” (a la suggestions that “respect” must be given no matter how weak a leader may be)? If that be the case, then our democracy is quite far down the slippery slope to fascism.

      Now, if you do not call that substantive, then I surely think you are being blinded to the slow erosion of democratic principles, which will lead to autocratic government and the substantiation of Fanon’s statement.

      And all caused by people who wilfully shoot the messengers bringing the truth (because they have deep-seated biases about the truth messengers’ political affiliation, or personal background, and so on).

      Maybe the reason Fanon’s “more repressive African leaders” exist is because the voting population allow it to happen, by allowing themselves to be fooled by the spurious reasons for Secrecy Acts, by turning a blind eye to millions being wasted at Nkandla, etc.!