Minister exodus after Mbeki

The news reports continue to tell us that the ANC says there is “no crisis” after the deputy president of the country resigned followed by ten ministers and three deputy ministers, after President Mbeki was forced to resign by his party. However, until a few months ago, it was the same ANC that argued that the party is not divided. Why then, if this was so, then, and is so now, did Mbeki need to be replaced by ANC vice president, Kgalema Mothlante, in order to ‘restore unity’ within the party? Which party? The same party that is not divided? Mh. Interesting.

Then we had outgoing President Mbeki declaring that there was no crisis on crime, on HIV/AIDS, on gender based violence, and definitely no crisis in the time lag before announcing the Zimbabwean election results. Well, history sure showed him, huh? There is still a crisis on all these fronts. He is an ANC man, even if the same party he devoted his life to has just humiliated him in public. I want to add “unnecessarily”, but when is it ever necessary to humiliate another person?

Nobody has quite addressed the question of why, with only a few months until the end of his term, Mbeki had to be pushed out? Unless, of course, we all read this for what it really is: a very public flogging and humiliation. It is now clear that the axed premiers, Nosimo Balindlela of the Eastern Cape province and Ebrahim Rasool of the Western Cape province, were a practice run.

With all of this as backdrop, then, forgive me for thinking there is a huge crisis yet again. Whenever we are told there is no crisis by ANC men, there usually is. So, given that the incoming caretaker president is a unifying figure in the ANC, why are so many of his comrades resigning after Mbeki was forced to resign? What are we to make of the allegations that the vice-president, Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka along with these ministers and deputy ministers had drafted and submitted their resignation letters before Mbeki had even made his speech on Sunday but that he had implored them to stay on?

Where is this fantastic, well-planned, thought-out transitional arrangement that the new bloc claims to have in place? Why are we supposed to be so excited about this unifying new president that has had a significant walk-out of members of his own party before he even makes his first speech? Who is he to unify? The new power within the ANC/alliance with itself? It sure looks like it.

We, the citizens and residents of South Africa, will pay for this in more ways than one. Morale is already very low and there is much talk of the ANC hopefully splitting in some sections of the country. This would be sad indeed, but which ANC would this be sad for? It is too late for the fracture bloc, if indeed it exists, to register for the next elections, which the new ANC bloc should not win if this is how they intend to do things. Unless there is more drama awaiting us in the soapie that is September month in South Africa.

I am also intrigued by the manner in which the leaders of smaller opposition parties in parliament are now scurrying to eat their words, especially the ID and DA, who were quite convinced according to public pronouncements that Mbeki needed to go, are now making senseless comments. So what is new, you may well ask. What do they care whether the ANC is reliable or not in what it promises and claims? Has it not been their business to claim that it is rubbish and unreliable anyway? It is even harder to take them seriously now than it is to take the new bloc seriously.

Along with many other South Africans, I suspect that the walkout is far from over. I was not surprised by many of the names of the resignees. I did expect a few more names than appeared on the list, however. It does matter that those who are leaving cabinet with Mbeki are mostly senior ANC and alliance members.

The resignations as of this afternoon are as follows:

President of the Republic, Thabo Mbeki (ANC)
Deputy president, Phumzile Mlambo Ngcuka (ANC)
Minister in the Presidency, Dr Essop Pahad (ANC)
Minister of Public Service and Administration, Geraldine Fraser-Moleketi (ANC)
Minister of Public Works, Thoko Didiza (ANC)
Minister of Finance, Trevor Manuel (ANC)
Minister of Defence, Mosiuoa Lekota (ANC)
Minister of Correctional Service, Ngconde Balfour (ANC)
Minister of Provincial and Local Government, Sidney Mufamadi (ANC)
Minister of Intelligence, Ronnie Kasrils (ANC)
Minister of Public Enterprises, Alec Erwin (ANC)
Minister of Science and Technology, Mosibudi Mangena (AZAPO)
Deputy Minister of Correctional Services, Loretta Jacobus (ANC)
Deputy Minister of Finance, Jabulani Moleketi (ANC)
Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, Aziz Pahad (ANC)

That is 15 people out of a total of 40 national departments , but what that really means is that

* the presidency has lost three
* finance has lost both minister and deputy minister (although there are now reports that they resigned on the equivalent of a technicality and are happy to be re-sworn in)
* correctional services ministry has lost both the minister and deputy minister

The remaining ministries have either a minister or deputy minister still in place. Nonetheless, the exodus is not insignificant. It is a strong statement, no matter what the ANC NEC spokespeople would have us believe. It is no small matter when several ANC heavyweights walk out in this manner over something the ANC NEC says is not cause for division.

It makes me wonder what other significant fissures there are in this undivided party. What is next?

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Posted on 23 September 2008, in things that suck and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. Prof Gqola, you never stop inspiring me, or rather every time I read your pieces I keep nodding, how true and well articulated the article is.

    I have been listening to the news, hearing analysts speak and write about the current crisis. What I picked up was that most people were either pro-Zuma or pro-Mbheki and never in the middle, nor making sense.

    Its not easy not taking sides I guess. However I am 50% pro-Mbeki and 50% realist and 101% South African, you be the judge of where does my 1% go to.

    I like the fact that even though the ousted president was/ is your hero, you are not blinded by his weaknesses and his fallouts (judging by this article). Yes he was an honourable man, one of the best leaders that Africa has ever tasted, but he was furthest from perfect. He had alarming weaknesses and victories worth toasting for.

    These days I have decided to not make anymore wishes. When the president made his speech on that Sunday evening, I listened carefully to every word that came out of his mouth. I read his emotions and related to the feeling of humiliation he suffered. My anger, or shall I say disgust, made me to wish the whole cabinet should step down so that the fight could be even. To my surprise, they did just that and I said “tshothso”. But where is my country going? Have I stopped caring?????

    Not that I don’t see the danger this infighting could cause, somehow I realise that I cannot be sitting on the fence, sometimes I lose strength and fall on the other side. This is where I symphathise, think devilishly, whine and shout. I cant express how sometimes I wish to slap Mbheki and how I do not want my 1% to hear when I am reprimanding my hero in case he might laugh. Or think that we forgot about Khwezi’s ordeal. If he can hear me reprimanding my hero he would think I am at his level or I am one of those women he can charm into believing, the head of the state is supposed to seat the whole day in the funeral so his people can get to know him personally. No I am fine with the president that comes to the funeral, to make his speech and go. I prefer to be led by someone with authority, who knows the subject he is talking about and a sensible thinker. Yes he has put himself on the trap. He has no one to blame but himself. Unlike his enemy who, at the end of the day he will blame his allies for overwriting his brains, who, ate slept, and drank for him in the name of democracy and bloody “COMMUNISM”

    Mbheki must be fortified to say “ fellow South Africans, no matter the outcome, what I am proud of is “I did it my way”. I apologise for not listening to advise, but, its my own stupidity that killed me”

    What makes me protect him more is the fact that he is the loner, a visionary whom I agree and disagree with but who makes a lot of sense even beyond naivety…

    you be the judge whether im now 80% realist and 20% pro-Mbeki, or vice versa…

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