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.