The End of The Beginning?

I find it bitterly ironic that everytime I go to the Drakensburg, something big happens in our political world. When I left last time, it was March 2003 and coalition troops had just started their invasion of Iraq. Instead of sitting by the TV watching embeds duck for cover in the desert, I was in the Berg, freezing my balls off and thoroughly miserable at the thought of missing the opening salvos of the largest military campaign of my life. Now, I headed once more into the Berg, once again freezing my balls off, and our President has resigned…

… To be frank I’m struggling to reconcile my gut-reaction to the NEC’s petulent demands and Mbeki’s meekness with the simple fact that, so far, nothing in this process over the weekend has violated any regulations or constitutional laws. This is the wheels of the ANC and government moving ever so rapidly towards a goal I can’t quite see at the moment. I want to be outraged that this can happen. That we can lose our president without having an ounce of a say about it, that the ANC and the Zuma camp can depose our president at the snap of a finger while he himself has yet to undergo trial for corruption. It’s worrying, but at the same time, it’s entirely above-board.

I’m not about to defend President Mbeki either. Between his cabinet of utter incompetence (including such pearls as Manto, Alec Irwin and Ivy) to his atrocious foreign policy, the Mbeki presidency of late has been a sadly-worsening comedy of errors. His obstinacy and outright stubborn demeanour is not one befitting a president of Africa’s leading state, especially when it is still relatively young in its lifespan. That being said, the simple ease with which he has been thrown out is worrying. It’s a powerful indication of the ANC’s strength even now, amidst the mammoth power struggle that’s ongoing (or arguably already won depending on whether you’re looking into Luthuli house or out), and it’s a depressing reminder that, even though Mbeki’s incompetence is now ended, we’re not exactly about to be treated to a particularly proficient leader, regardless of who he or she might be.

Ultimately there’s nothing much to say that has not been said already. This is certainly not the woe-betide-zimbabwe-africa-uhuru-beans&machine-gun indication of South Africa’s plunge into chaos, but it is saddening. Thabo Mbeki served his country for nine years only be to kicked out in the process of the ANC’s cadre march to the far left (or not, depending on Zuma’s running platform for the month.) He deserved better than this. Not much better, but still something less ignominious than this.