Thoughts on South African and international politics and culture

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Open Warfare
Yesterday was a very busy day if you're following the ANC succession battle, with blows being traded across the candidate field, and new candidates being mooted.

First we had Zuma having a crack at Sexwale for "announcing" his presidential bid. This unfortunately, is the proverbial pot calling the kettle black, as Zuma framed his response in exactly the same way when confronted about his presidential aspirations.

Later in the day, Zuma had a go at Mbeki's attempts at controlling the succession battle by standing for a third party president term. Zuma stated his opposition to the two centres of power that would exist with Mbeki as party president after he steps down as state president. Zuma also used the opportunity to outline some policy sympathies, stating that the 'market' was undoubtedly the key factor in economic growth, but that the state's role was to take care of its citizens, as opposed to relying on the private sector. What this means is entirely up to the individual's interpretation. Zuma could be merely positioning a US Democratic Party style 'big government' policy, or it could be further to the socialist left. My thoughts would be that it's the former. You'll notice how careful Zuma is not to fully outline policy. I still think that Zuma is being very clever about pandering to the left of the tripartite alliance, but not completely buying into their policies. Either way, this is in stark contrast to Sexwale's position outlined this week, which sees him firmly behind a private sector-led solution.

Finally, Mbeki was out touting what is probably to be his preferred successor, Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka. Two things of note here. Firstly, that he seems to have dropped Dlamini-Zuma, who was widely seen to be his preferred choice. Secondly, Phumzile's chances themselves, where personally, I think Phumzile's going to struggle. She was picked as Deputy President by Mbeki after Zuma's sacking over a number of more fancied candidates, and thus has great difficulty shaking the Mbeki stooge perception. Secondly, she is largely unknown to vast tracts of the voting electorate. Zuma and Sexwale are light years ahead in terms of name recognition and electorate respect. With the AGM in December, she will have a significant amount of work to do in a very short time to become a viable alternative. I just can't see this happening.