Thursday, February 05, 2004

Manuel for President?
Farrel at PoliticsZA makes the point (30 Jan) that fears about Mbeki changing the Constitution to run for a third term are probably misplaced because there are too many ambitious ANC members with an eye on the presidency who wouldn't want to wait another five years. He mentions Trevor Manuel in particular.

Personally, I'd be thrilled if Manuel became the next president, largely because he's always struck me as very competent. But I do have some doubts. Firstly, as we know, Mbeki can be a determined (stubborn?) man, as evidenced by his stances on AIDS and Zimbabwe. And when he has taken views on matters such as this, there does seem to have been a lack of will from other ANC members to challenge him, or hold him to account. Certainly, no other member of the cabinet has been particularly outspoken about AIDS. Of course, this is only speculative, as we don't know what happens behind closed doors, and by convention members of the cabinet don't dissent in public. But still, I wonder, if Mbeki did form the idea that he should stay on, and convinced others close to him that it was the best course, would he get away with it? I'm not sure.

Secondly, I know that Manuel is immensely popular within the ANC (I seem to recall that he got the second most votes for the ANC's National Executive Committee), but I can't help but wonder, racial politics being what it is in South Africa, whether he's maybe too, well, white. I don't know enough about the internal workings of the ANC to know if this is a factor, but I suspect that it might be. Perhaps someone out there who knows more about this subject can enlighten me.

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