A leader who has lost the support of the party that put him in office should resign from office. This is a normal understanding of democracy. Yet COSATU calls this point of view, borrowing a word from President Mbeki, a “canard” (a duck). According to COSATU, whoever said, following the result of the ANC’s Provincial Nomination Conferences, that Cde Mbeki would have to resign, is a “provocateur”.
There seems to be more French language used in SA these days than at any time since the Huguenots were forced to give it up!
COSATU’s idea seems to be that if one was to say something worrying to the ANC delegates they might panic (and do what?). This is a view of the ANC that says the delegates are politically uneducated and emotionally unstable. Perhaps COSATU knows something that we don’t know, but we respect the delegates more. We do not expect that it will be possible to say anything or to write anything, at this stage, that is going to change the political conjuncture or stampede those delegates one way or another.
What the Communist University has always said is that the remedy for subjective uncertainty is political education, and that political education is all the more necessary in times of increased action, like during national or local elections, or like now, in the period leading up to the (Polokwane) 52nd ANC Conference. So, with all due respect to COSATU, we will continue to study this matter rigorously.
Let us start with another commentator, Mac Maharaj, who said on television that if Thabo Mbeki could work with Frederick de Klerk then he can work with Jacob Zuma! Apart from the odious comparison, it is not actually true that Mbeki (1st Deputy President at the time) worked well with de Klerk (as 2nd Deputy President). What happened was that Mbeki started building up his office and sidelining de Klerk, who very soon resigned. Then Mbeki started using his office to undermine President Mandela, ignoring him, refusing to return his calls, and “running the country” over his head. Mandela resigned after one term.
When Jacob Zuma became Deputy President there was no question of creating an office and staff for him like there had been for Mbeki. There was only going to be one such office. Mbeki took his “camp” with him to the Presidency, while growing it all the time, in numbers and in budget, until it was like a State over the State. Then he turned against Zuma, using the State to try to push Zuma down.
COSATU is proposing that Mbeki and his enormous entourage should remain in Union Buildings, plotting and scheming to prevent Zuma becoming President of the country, for 18 months after Mbeki is defeated in a party vote. It is not a good idea. Jacob Zuma’s bourgeois supporters (by the way, the bourgeoisie also has its Zuma camp and Mbeki camp by now) will tell Zuma so even if his labour supporters do not. They do not want uncertainty. They want a secure result as soon as possible.
When history is on the move the changes run all over the place. The job of the communists is invariably to urge history on, and to push all the players, including the bourgeoisie, to play their parts to the utmost extent (see for example the March 1850 Address to the CC of the Communist League by Karl Marx).
It may be that COSATU thought that it could park both Jacob Zuma and Thabo Mbeki for 18 moths while it, COSATU, took centre stage with its Alliance Pact, Commission on Socialism, Conference of the Left, and all the rest of it. Maybe COSATU is afraid that a new President Zuma will take the initiative away from COSATU. But that's just be the way the cookie crumbles. Life is going to remind us once again of all our experience and all our theory, ancient and modern, to the effect that it takes more than a Trade Union structure to do the political business of the working class. It takes a Communist Party.
Three of today’s linked articles have to do with camp Mbeki, now looking more grotesque and cartoon-like with every ducking day that passes. Those whom the political Gods wish to destroy, they first expose as ridiculous. The last item is a strong piece of anti-imperialist writing of a kind not seen for many years. Bravo, Wainaina!
Click on these links:
YCL open letter to Dali Mpofu demanding cancellation of Mbeki interview (663 words)
Rule of law, not rule of bias, Letsoalo interviews Ntshalintshali, M and G (835 words)
Politics turns women’s battle into a male weapon, Karima Brown, B Day (726 words)
Oxfamming the whole black world, Binyavanga Wainaina, Mail and Guardian (759 words)