Here are a few political thoughts. They are only thoughts: not necessarily personal opinions and definitely not a plug for any side in our fissiparous and floundering ruling party/alliance. They will accordingly be a laughing stock, safely ignored, or found completely unacceptable. In short, they offer something for everyone.
Jacob Zuma is not a bad president, but a weak one. Thabo Mbeki was a strong president, but a bad one. To grumble too much either way is to miss the point. SA takes the presidents it gets. That is current procedure.
Whereas people could rarely understand what former president Thabo Mbeki said, President Zuma has always been clear. He explained from the start he will do what the party decides and since the party has difficulty deciding anything, he does not know what to do.
Though that sounds a joke, it is serious, but in quite another way. The constant calls for leadership can be seen as a yearning on all sides for someone who would crack the whip, sort things out, bang some heads together, ride a little roughshod, maybe. Someone of stature.
Do we unconsciously want a Big Man, perhaps? In what is SA’s essentially one-party state, there’s a joke that could turn out to be serious indeed.
Our outcast national-socialist Mr Julius Malema is telling anyone desperate enough to listen that no leader is any good. Once it was Mr Mbeki; now it’s President Zuma and, gratuitously, Cyril Ramaphosa. How long before it’s Kgalema Motlanthe and there’s no one left with credit, or credibility, at all?
Perhaps SA’s problems are too much for any one person. They are certainly too much for any one party.
Letter published in BDlive, August 24 2012