Democracy Rising

"Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable" ~ President John F. Kennedy

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Mbeki And The Incompetent Vice-President

It's widely documented that Jacob Zuma, the peoples favourite was expelled from the South African Vice-Presidency last year in relation to allegations of corruption/rape. However his replacement to Johannesburg's second most powerful position has certainly ruffled some feathers.

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, was plucked from relative obscurity to take over the post in June of last year.
Since then she has advocated Zim-style seizures of land, and only this week been accused of less than democratic activity. The Democratic Alliance opposition were quick to denounce her use of an Air Force plane for a private holiday to the United Arab Emirates estimated to have cost taxpayers about 400,000 rand ($66,000).

So why has Mbeki allowed someone demonstrating classic 'African-Despot' characteristics to take over the Vice-Presidency? Does it serve a deeper purpose?

Dictators in many countries, including Iraq and Turkmenistan have often surrounded themselves with ministers displaying incompetent management skills to strengthen their own positions. The classic 'well if (insert Despot's name here) wasn't in charge look who'd be left. It's safer to have him than (insert moronic Prime Minister's name here)'.

Despite the rhetoric, Mbeki is potentially setting himself up to change the constitution to stand again as President. Whilst the ANC isn't a sheep party, like the PAP in Singapore or Otan in Kazakhstan, Thabo has a majority so large he could easily alter the term-limit rules. He appears to be hanging on. Mbeki is certainly hoping to wield significant power post-2009. Many of his supporters are arguing the case that he should be allowed to remain ANC leader even when his term as Head of Government ceases. Such a position, with a weak President in the mould of Mlambo-Ngcuka would allow Thabo to seriously influence the future direction of South Africa.

As I have said before, often the real test of how democratic a nation is, relates to the company it keeps. Certainly food for thought.


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