Sunday, November 25, 2007

The Coming of a Zuma Presidency?

It looks like the ANC is going to vote in Jacob Zuma as its President. It is a predictable triumph of populism over intellectual and reflective choices. It might seem to many in the West and majority of Mzansi an improvement on the incumbent Thabo Mbeki but I suspect it is a backward step. The Zeitgeist in South Africa amongst the majority black population and co-opted by the cynical media elite, is the worship of the activist. I will not dwell too much on the activocracy as I call them (read earlier posting on Mzansi) but suffice it to say that it is the foundation and catalyst for what appears to be a very poor choice. It also seems that it is part of the enduring view amongst many other ethnic groups in Mzansi that there is something called the 'Xhosa Nostra'. That is most of their black elite are Xhosa hence for the some time to give the Zulu the chance to rule. There are however too many challenges ahead for this beautiful country to fall into the trap of the laziness of Conventional wisdom. Mr Zuma might be the most personable and approachable salt of the earth but nothing he has done or said suggest that he is intellectually, emotionally or practically capable of leading the most successful African Economy. I do not think Mzansi can afford to make a petulant choice for its sake and for the possibility of an Africa that will be competitive in this new century. Some of the challenges that Zuma can worsen are:

1. The landless millions who have the potential to ride the wave of populism towards a hasty 'Zimbabwean' style land grab.

2. The effect of the increasing population and Urbanisation on the infrastructure already showing in the worsening power failure and rationing.

3. Increasing Xenophobia towards immigrants and intolerance of the other, even ethnic discrimination especially towards the much envied Xhosa

4. The abuse of women especially the rape which is already at a phenomenal level.

5. Breaking the stranglehold on the economy by a few conglomerates mostly white owned in a sustainable and productive manner.

6. Moving beyond the simplistic rhetoric of so called 'Black diamonds' towards a truly integrated market place that opens up for upward mobility rather than a poorly engineered Government quota system.

All these things need a sophisticated and nuanced decision as well as policy line that educates the people, sets standards and engages them towards possibilities rather than fears.

There are too many South Africans who view Mbeki with suspicion and too many in the West that will never forgive him for his position on Zimbabwe. I hope for their sake this choice proves right because if it is not they will look back on President Mbeki with Nostalgia but by that time the damage would be done.. I am sure in my instincts that this is what will happen but only time will be the judge.


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