Thoughts on South African and international politics and culture

Monday, May 17, 2004

Had a great weekend of reading up in a hut in the mountains of Bains Kloof. South Africa won the 2010 World Cup Football bid, which is truly awesome news. Anything that can generate in excess of 160 000 jobs for this country is fantastic. Well done to Danny Jordaan and the team, although it was sad to see how old Nelson is looking. He really needs to slow down, and I hope that was his last overseas trip. The old man deserves some peace.

On another note, there was a very interesting article in the British newspaper, The Telegraph, this weekend, where Helen Suzman attacked the ruling ANC government, and branded Thabo Mbeki as racist. This is an interesting challenge from a woman that needs no introduction (and who is impervious to accusations of racist agendas) and one which I wish would open up more constructive debate on the government in South Africa. Much discussion has been made recently in this vein, although very little in our own (fairly toothless) media, but rather in the foreign media, with the result that debate and criticism is largely underdeveloped. Mbeki, as one of the exile ANC leaders, holds a markedly distinct view of reconcilliation from Mandela, and one which may not entirely run parallel to what South Africans expected in the continuation of the Mandela era. I do think that Suzman raises some important points, and that, as South Africans, we should be more critical of our leadership. Whilst at present, any criticism is easily washed away by the ruling government as racist diatribe, this will not always be the case, and in lieau of a strong opposition in Parliment, the public has to take the lead on keeping the government on its toes.

Whilst personally, I think Mbeki has done a laudable job in keeping South Africa politically stable through what has been a challenging time, his views on HIV/AIDS and Zimbabwe will no doubt define his presidency. I think many of us forget what could have happened to this country, both after the 1994 elections, and after Mandela stepped down as president. Nontheless, Mbeki does hold views that are notably, if subtly, anti-white, and in my view, he has tried too hard to define himself as an international figure, when South Africa is crying out for domestic action.