Friday, December 21, 2007

Zimbabwe and the Jacob Zuma factor


By Mutumwa D. Mawere
Last updated: 12/19/2007 19:55:54

AS SOUTH Africa and indeed President Thabo Mbeki digests and reflects on Jacob Zuma’s victory as the president of Africa’s oldest political party, the African National Congress (ANC), there is no doubt that the political actors in Zimbabwe are also challenged by the implications of a Zuma presidency underpinned by strong support by President Mugabe’s strongest and most vocal critics i.e. COSATU and the SACP.....

The appointment of President Mbeki as the mediator was not accidental. Since the dismissal of his Deputy President, Jacob Zuma, President Mbeki was facing a brewing political crisis of his own and his adversaries in the main i.e. COSATU and SACP, were also Mugabe’s nemesis. An objective analysis would have suggested that both President Mugabe and Mbeki were victims of counter-revolutionaries who were thin on liberation/revolutionary values and morality but strong on populism.

It is evident that prior to the SADC summit in Tanzania, President Mugabe may have doubted President Mbeki’s credentials as a revolutionary. What must have happened during the summit was that as President Mugabe briefed the heads of state; President Mbeki could not help but to accept that the same forces that wanted regime change in Zimbabwe appeared to have the same approach in respect of the ANC succession battle. Whereas President Mugabe’s adversaries were outside his own party, President Mbeki’s adversaries were in his party but not under his control.

For the first time, President Mugabe must have felt that he at last had gotten through to President Mbeki who hitherto had not fully appreciated the broader implications of the MDC onslaught....

How did Mugabe outfox his adversaries and Mbeki fall victim of his own? What is evident is that if Mbeki had won the ANC elections, President Mugabe would have been assisted greatly in burying the regime change agenda. The victory of Zuma presents a problem for President Mugabe in that if President Mbeki can get the boot from his comrades, he also can get a boot from his citizens. The approach to governance and use of state power between President Mbeki and Mugabe may not be different but the difference is that Mbeki’s adversaries were more organised and focused than Mugabe’s adversaries.

It is clear that Zuma has emerged as a great strategist and tactician than many have given him credit for. Without Zuma’s leadership and ability to confront tyranny, the forces against Mbeki would not have executed their mandate with such precision and clarity. At the end of the day, Mbeki’s real adversary was not any third party or shadowy figure but his own deputy. Zuma did not shy away from being counted unlike the so-called Zanu PF faction leaders...

What Zuma has shown is that through democratic means, people can endure vilification and intimidation and yet emerge as victors through effective mobilisation.


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