Mangaung approaches fast. Let's take a realistic, not prophetic look at it, leaving out the wailing and gnashing of teeth. They only make the head spin and the eyes lose focus.
The doomsayers declaring a second term for Jacob Zuma a sign of the End of Days should be heard with scepticism. The president could respectably announce his retirement - or, unlike former president Thabo Mbeki, respectably be 'recalled', an honourable job done - any time after 2014, having splendidly led his party to an historic election victory.
If only we were seers. Perhaps the deal has already been struck in the corridors of the ANC-tripartite alliance that our likeable and beleaguered president's stay will not extend to anything like seven years.
What is clear to see is that re-electing Jacob Zuma president at Mangaung improves the ANC’s chances of holding on to power not only beyond 2014, when victory is certain, but beyond 2019, when it may not be quite so sure. Whether the party’s fortunes continue downhill or pick up from today’s low, the top men in the suits can time a 'better' replacement for the president at the best moment. Which is another reason why President Zuma's re-election at Mangaung is probably now a shoo-in.
Helen Zille says it is and she, after all, is the leader of SA's putative opposition. We should listen. Ms Zille knows the ANC is unchallenged democratically and that a small caucus will decide 'the leadership contest' to suit the party.
Published on BDlive Letters, November 20 2012