Saturday, January 31, 2004

The question of whether Mbeki intends to ammend the constitution to run for a third term or not has raised its head again. SABC reports that Tony Leon has written a letter to the President asking him to clarify his position, although it has to be said that in the past Mbeki has refused to be drawn on this matter and I doubt that he'll respond this time. Nevertheless, this is slowly turning into a major issue with even Nelson Mandela publicly declaring that he is sure that the President would never do such a thing.

Or would he? I'm sure I'm not the only person who's noticed the dearth of talent at the top levels of the ANC hierarchy. Jacob Zuma, Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma, Patrick Lekota, Manto Tshabalala-Msimang, Trevor Manuel, Mbhazima Shilowa. These are some of the big hitters and with the possible exception of Manuel and Shilowa they don't inspire much confidence. Is Mbeki aware of this? Could he be planning to amend the constiution to prevent the possibility that some incompetent (Jacob Zuma springs to mind) ends up running the country? I find it both amazing and troubling that an organisation of the ANCs size is unable to produce any credible successors to Mbeki, but then I'm reminded of the fact that most of the best people have left government and gone into the private sector. Cyril Ramaphosa and Tokyo Sexwale, both respected and both spoken of as possible future presidents at one time, have left and appear to have given up any plans in this direction. And of course it bears pointing out that neither of them was an Mbeki acolyte and both of them were implicated in the bizarre and somewhat unlikely 'Mbeki assassination plot' a few years ago. So has Mbeki been systematically driving out credible successors so that he can then turn around and argue for a third term on the basis that there is nobody else up to the job? We shall see, although, when I put on my sensible hat, I'm afraid that I find this all a bit too much to believe. I'd like to think that this is just Leon stirring.

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