Thoughts on South African and international politics and culture

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

A Pyrrhic Victory
Those unenamoured with Jacob Zuma will celebrate the decision to allow the request to Mauritian authorities for documents pertaining to the Zuma graft case, including the widely sought diary of former French arms official Alain Thetard. But before celebrating too much, one must understand that the 'victory' (whilst not being Pyrrhic in a classic sense), has a significant caveat. This being that both Zuma and the French arms company Thint have appealed against the judgement, and the Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA) will hear the case on September 21, still a way away.

What this means is that firstly, the decision by the NPA to resume its prosecution of Zuma is still months away, and secondly, that the case will still be very much up in the air over the ANC AGM in December. The latter could be positive or negative for Zuma, depending on which side of the fence you sit, but for all but the hardiest of Zuma supporters (read: those burning effigies and calling his rape accuser "whore" outside the courthouse), this must be a retarding factor for his presidential ambitions.

In politics,uncertainty is never a good thing. Whilst many within the ANC vote blindly, there are large tracts of moderates within the ANC electorate that do want to see a leader of high moral integrity in power. This is naturally largely ineffectual if Zuma is voted in as party president in December, but those tracts of the electorate will undoubtedly make their feelings known to their regional representatives before this stage, and I see this as increasingly unlikely. There have already been growing rumblings of discontent - not limited to Mbeki-ites only - from within the ANC around Zuma's bid, and this will only serve to further amplify these concerns.

It also gives greater weight to a counter-balance candidate such as Tokyo Sexwale, who has the moral stature to be a "Camelot" type leader for the masses. It's going to be a great run-in to December...