Sunday, October 26, 2003

For interests sake, I'm posting a response to one of Murray's articles by Farrel Lifson at Politics.Za:

"With regards to the lack of successors for Mbeki, I think people are underestimating Trevor Manuel. He is immensely popular among the ANC membership (as witnessed by his #1 election to the ANC NEC), he has a credible track record in his current position as Finance Minister and he is one of the few politicians in this whole Zuma/Ngcuka/Shaik/Maharaj mess who will come out totally clean. I don't think he has yet to make a single statement about the whole debacle. He in fact has probably the most to gain by Zuma losing his standing in the ANC and not taking over after Mbeki.

Of course the question remains will the "Xhosa Nostra" allow a boy from the Cape Flats to lead the country?

Ramaphosa is definitely a contender but I really think that Manuel has his eyes dead set on the prize. If Ramaphosa throws his hat in the ring he will find a tough contender in Manuel."

I agree that Manuel is an impressive character. Along with Tito Mboweni he strikes me as one of the ANCs most credible and intelligent members. Nevertheless, I'll eat my hat if South Africa ends up with a Manuel presidency. A former lecturer of mine at the University of Cape Town once made the point that ANC internal politics is driven by competition between the 'Robben Islanders', the 'Exiles' and the people who made their names in the 80s in either the trade unions or the UDF, call them the 'civics'. That struggle was effectively won by the 'exiles' when Mbeki out manouvered Ramaphosa in the mid 90s. It resurfaces from time to time though, most recently when Ramaphosa, Tokyo Sexwale and Matthews Phosa were accused of plotting against the president in 2001. If this theory is correct, it puts Manuel at an immediate disadvantage since he cut his political teeth as a trade unionist in the early 80s and, to the best of my knowledge, has never been close to the exiles. I know that Manuel was elected no1 to the ANC MEC recently but I struggle to believe that the movers and shakers within the ANC will allow him to take the top job. This is before we even look at other theories of ANC internal politics. Its long been said, particularly by Zulus that the movement is dominated by Xhosa's and that a Zulu could never be president. As Farrel points out, Manuel is, 'a boy from the Cape Flats' so whether he would even be considered for the top job is anybodies guess. It's a pity, because I think he'd do a damn good job. He is already the most successful post War Minister of Finance that the country has produced (he'd run rings around anything that the Nats ever came up with) and has shown himself to be a thoughtful and articulate politician. It's hard to imagine Manuel making some of Mbeki's more egregious gaffe's.

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