7 December 2007

Ratshitanga Junction

W B Yeats and Chinua Achebe agree: When the centre cannot hold, things fall apart. There are people who are opposed to Thabo Mbeki, yet who still think his Presidency of the country can hold together until 2009. But like a boxer whose legs have gone, there is no way this guy can save himself, or be saved. From now on, everything involving TM is likely to end up as a fiasco.

On Tuesday night there was supposed to be a two-hour marathon phone-in/interview with President Mbeki. It faded after one hour and a quarter (see linked report below). What a flop! It had been preceeded by a crackling hour on Khaya FM with John Perlman, Buti Manamela, and the oily, evasive CEO and “Editor in Chief” of SABC, “Advocate” (is that a profession or a nickname?) Dali Mpofu. Perlman was swamped with calls, SMS’s and e-mails.

Mpofu said clearly that the two-hour slot with Mbeki, broadcast on 15 radio stations, was going to be a mixed interview and phone-in. Oh dear! It turned out to be more like Sunday night in the graveyard.

They should have thought of the possibility that very few people would phone Mbeki, who is a stiff and sticky customer at the best of times, as everybody knows. They should have made it half an hour and then made a big fuss about extending it, and organised some action. The thing was obviously a last-minute panic job in all rspects.

James Myburgh points out (second link) that pushing out everybody who doesn’t like you, or could be a future rival, only means you have the possibility of control. The actual control you still have to do. If you mess up, it is the dictator’s fault, even if somebody else’s head must roll.

So who is the dictator going to scapegoat for his public relations shambles? The smart money is on Mukoni Ratshitanga (picture) to take the fall (see Renée Bonorchis’ article, below). What goes around, comes around. Be careful how you treat people on the way up. You may meet them again on the way down.

Gradually people slip away from the leader who cannot hold the centre. Some are happy to abandon him with loud noises that will be noticed far and wide (like Zola Skweyiya). Others just keep quiet. His best friends are no doubt telling him to quit while he can save a little dignity, but you can be sure he doesn’t want to know, and is getting short-tempered with them, turning them, too, against him.

As they say: “Captain Queeg is in the office, rolling marbles” (see the picture from The Caine Mutiny).

Or maybe the correct comparison is with the fall of Alexander Kerensky (also pictured). See the link below for an account of that disintegration by Louise Bryant, who was in Russia at the time.

If Jacob Zuma wants to wait 18 months to move in to the national Presidency, he is betting on a second chance, which is a big mistake. If he is seriously not ready, then we are in big trouble. It is impossible to understand the reasoning of Mo Shaik, in today’s Mail and Guardian. This Shiak brother has suddenly popped up in that newspaper as a big cheese for the Zuma camp, to tell us that Mbeki must sit in the Union Buildings until 2009. What kind of arrogance is it that makes people think they can put history on hold? Or that they own the people’s will? It is not Mo Shaik’s decision, or JZ’s either!

If the Zumistas stall at the moment the people are ready to act, they can be over-run. We could in that case very quickly end up with neither JZ nor TM, but somebody out of the blue. The bourgeoisie will always have somebody ready, and whatever Mo Shaik may think, it doesn’t like to leave opportunities unattended to (not forgetting the fact that the Shaiks are businesspeople – bourgeois – too). Does the working class have its team ready? In spite of Mo Shaik’s intervention, the indications are that it has.

Click on these links:

Mbeki interview chaos, News, Politicsweb (232 words)

Behind Mbeki loss of control, James Myburgh, Politicsweb (837 words)

Spokesman doubles Mbeki troubles, Renée Bonorchis, B Day (619 words)

The Fall of Kerensky, from Six Red Months in Russia, by Louise Bryant (2009 words)

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