THE nine provincial regions of the ANC have all but spoken and it is now clear that the party’s December congress will be the setting for a bruising showdown.
Between them, President Thabo Mbeki and the man he fired as the country’s deputy president, Jacob Zuma appear to share the vote with four provinces each.
The ninth province, Gauteng, remains heavily contested and its recently elected chairman, Paul Mashatile, has stated that he wants his region to stay out of the fray.
This could be seen as a politically astute move to position Gauteng as a king-making province come December.
Or, possibly more likely, it could be evidence of how deep the divisions run in this very influential province.
What is plain is that the others who have been mentioned as possible candidates — Tokyo Sexwale, Cyril Ramaphosa and Joel Netshitenzhe — have not emerged from branch nominations with significant support.
Only candidates with the support of two provinces, or those who can muster 25% of the delegates on the floor of the congress will make it onto the ballot.
Sexwale, despite a refreshingly public campaign, has emerged with little support from the branches and has no provincial nomination.
The only scenario in which these secondary candidates are likely to have a shot at the top job is one where there is some sort of deadlock between Mbeki and Zuma, paving the way for a compromise candidate to take center stage.
One likely scenario is that Mbeki will beat Zuma. He is the incumbent and his challenger is weighed down by scandal.
The key question then becomes who will become Mbeki’s deputy. It is most likely to be Zuma, then come 2009 when Mbeki leaves public office, he will be in a very powerful position to rule South Africa.
The next month will plot a course for our politics for the next ten years.
THE ABUSE scandal that has rocked Oprah Winfrey’s South African school for girls does not reflect badly on the famous talk show host.
It reflects badly on this nation. The abuse of women and children has reached alarming proportions in this country and it should not be surprising that it manifested itself in Oprah’s school.
If anything, the presence of the Oprah name and the fact that this school was set up with high expectations has meant that the abuse has been exposed.
This morning Tiny Virginia Makopo — a dormitory matron at the school — appeared on 13 counts of indecent assault, assault and criminal injury against six students and a woman in her early twenties.
This afternoon Oprah took the unprecedented step of addressing a press conference carried live on Sky TV in which she apologised, expressed her devastation at the allegations and pledged to restore the dignity of her school.
The truth is that this same sort of abuse — although usually between male teachers and female pupils — is rife in our schools.
It’s just that it is a crime which has been allowed to remain in the shadows.
Government and the police have made the elimination of this sort of abuse a priority and the high statistics could, in part, be due to a high reporting rate.
But the burden for preventing and, should it occur, acting against it, lies with school principals, teachers and parents.
Teachers will often be the first to sense that something is wrong with the behavour of a pupil towards a fellow teacher.
They must act immediately and without fear of reprisals.
Oprah should not be condemned for allegations made against this matron. If anything, she should be praised for her decision to aggressively deal with the abuse.
LAST night my suburb in Johannesburg was alive with kids dressed in Halloween costumes. They went from door-to-door asking, with various degrees of enthusiasm for “trick or treat”. We put up a red balloon with a monstrous face on it, lit a few candles and had a bowl of sweets handy to give out to the kids. Our three-and-a-half year old daughter Zoe wore a Spiderella costume and had the time of her life dishing out sweets with a school-marmish tone to those assembled outside the gate. I hovered about like a dad – until I opened my mouth to reveal a rack of badly decayed teeth.
And yet, and yet … why where we doing this out here on the southern tip of Africa? How did this quintessentially American ocassion come to grip the hearts and minds of kids so far away, in a country with its own folklore and traditions? The short answer is “marketing” and goes along these lines: “The ever-inventive retail industry has developed a new driver for pre-Christmas sales”. And there is a lot of truth in this. There are some who think that Halloween sales are higher than Christmas sales in the US, evidence of a new paganism.
But is it the whole answer? For marketing to succeed it needs to be directed at filling some existing deep need in kids. And the need in this case is for them to explore the scary side. The thrill of fear is the key.
I feel ambivalent about it, but at the end of the day, its just a little fun, right?
AS THE ANC’s December conference looms large, those who want the top job in the ANC are hard at work doing two things with equal vigour: They are denying that they are running for the presidency while working hard to assemble support for their presidential ambitions.
Tokyo Sexwale’s broadside against the Mbeki government, which led this newspaper on Friday was a speech from the stump.
It was brutal, frank and populist.
Jacob Zuma has been dishing out the same medicine, albeit in a more veiled way, using third parties and innuendo.
President Thabo Mbeki, also NOT a candidate, has been up all night washing and ironing his Springbok jersey ahead of the next day’s photoshoot. An association with sporting greatness is too good an opportunity to be missed by even the most determined anti-populist politician.
On a more serious note, Mbeki is making a very powerful argument based on government’s track record in delivering a better life to the impoverished .
Mbeki used his Friday online newsletter to quote extensively from a Statistics South Africa survey which shows that more and more people are benefitting from government’s roll out of services and benefits.
The fact that there are many who have taken to the streets to protest against non-delivery should not detract from the enormous achievements of the last thirteen years.
So the non-existent presidential campaign is in full swing.
The problem with this “campaign” is its lack of transparency. How are ANC branches to properly assess the candidates if they are not known until the congress?
This is a scenario which suits those who wish to influence this decision by working over potential supporters on the quiet.
South Africa would benefit from a public and open campaign.
THE Times mourns the shocking death of reggae artist Lucky Dube, who was shot dead in Johannesburg on Thursday night.
Dube was one of this country’s greatest — and most popular artists.
He had a conscience and stood against racism. His song, Different colours, one people included the lines “Look at me you see BLACK/ I look at you I see WHITE/ Now is the time to kick that away.”
His tragic death will hopefully finally kick away the mistaken notion that it is white South Africans who are victims of crime.
On Thursday night, it was Lucky Dube. Tonight it could be anyone anywhere.
SOUTH Africa’s Springbok rugby team stands at the door of greatness.
They face 80 minutes of brutal contact against England in Saturday’s World Cup final in France.
The nation is united behind them … or is it?
There are those who are calling on rugby fans to “boo President Thabo Mbeki out of the stadium” when he attends the match to lend his support to the team.
The call appears to part of the growing sense of unease at Mbeki’s leadership and recent disturbing developments such as the suspension of Scorpions head Vusi Pikoli and the (badly) planned arrest of Sunday Times editor Mondli Makhanya.
Grave though these developments are, these calls are not appropriate and should not be supported by rugby fans who are proud to call themselves South Africans.
Mbeki is the elected President of South Africa. His political decisions, love them or hate them, do not alter the fact that he represents this country and it is right that he should do so in Paris on Saturday.
The fact that the Springboks are in the World Cup final ought to act as a uniting — not a dividing agent.
The World Cup stage is no place for political recriminations.
No-one should question the President’s support for the national rugby team. To do so plays into narrow sectarian and, it must be said, racist stereotypes about sport in South Africa.
People of all political persuasions and backgrounds need to stand as one nation behind the team.
There are few who will gainsay that the unity of the nation behind the Boks in 1995 played no small part in propelling them to an unlikely victory.
Tomorrow the Springboks will put their hands over their hearts and sing our national anthem with pride. They must know that for these 80 minutes, their country is united from the Limpopo to Cape Aghulas. No exceptions.
South African politics is very simple when you have all the facts …
Zuma and Shaik exchanged encypted faxes and cheques. Ngcuka investigated Shaik and Zuma. Shaik went to jail. Ngcuka resigned. Mbeki replaced Ngcuka with Pikoli. Ngcuka went into business. Mbeki appointed Mrs Ngcuka as his vice-president. Mrs Ngcuka was placed in charge of infrastructure spending. Ngcuka became chairman of a construction company. Pikoli investigated Zuma. Zuma ran for President. Selebi did not investigate Zuma. Agliotti bought Selebi a very expensive shirt. Selebi did not investigate Agliotti. Kebble funded the ANC. Masethla got a fax from someone. Mbeki fired Masethla. Zuma and Masethla become friends. Kebble was killed and Pikoli arrested Agliotti. Agliotti phoned Selebi because they were friends. Pikoli investigated Selebi. Mbeki stood by Selebi. Masethla went to court. Mbeki ran for president. Selebi continued to wear Aigner shirts. Pikoli obtained a warrant for the arrest of Selebi*. Mbeki suspended Pikoli. The Scorpions case against Selebi was placed under review.
See? Simple, really … NOT!