Posts tagged Thabo Mbeki

Is Jacob Zuma delivering? Sheria takes a look at the political events in South Africa before and after the elections

PERSPECTIVE
The dust has finally settled and the curtain closed. The African National Congress (ANC)emerged victors of the 2009 presidential and parliamentary elections. Their landslide victory comfortably secures them an upper hand in driving the affairs of South Africa and its infant democracy.
However, the ANC still faces major challenges as it desperately fights to keep the legacy of one of the world’s most respected statesmen, Nelson Mandela. It is a legacy that rescued South Africa’s black population from the ruthless and cruel hands of apartheid. Yet, not even a fresh faced election victory masks the challenges still facing this government.
Zuma’s government has a huge task in gaining the confidence of an electorate which ushered them into power. His government still has a lot to achieve and prove, in order to convince its people at the grassroots especially those living in abject poverty,  that his cabinet are worth their vote and are committed to bringing positive change and alleviating poverty in their communities.
In the past decade South Africa has faced a serious political meltdown threatening the maturity of its infant democracy.
History remembers well the sacking of then deputy president Jacob Zuma by former president Thabo Mbeki. At a high profile press conference, Mbeki disclosed that allegations of corruption against Zuma were the motivation behind his decision to remove Zuma from office.
The decision by Thabo Mbeki to fire Jacob Zuma as his deputy president enraged the ANC, which would later force Mbeki to vacate his presidency. Mbeki was accused of being on a mission to block all avenues that would see Zuma the next president of South Africa.
With integrity and dignity, a sombre Mbeki obliged.
History also remembers vividly why in the past decade, South Africa’s political chores have been widely criticized and put under scrutiny by Africa and the rest of the world. Former president Thabo Mbeki’s quiet diplomacy towards the Zimbabwe crisis was a much talked about issue that contributed to both South Africa and Zimbabwe’s political woes. Mbeki’s approach in dealing with Zimbabwe’s political crisis was widely condemned and as such, was seen by political scholars as a serious weakness on Mbeki’s ability to resolve conflicts. Thabo Mbheki’s quiet diplomacy wreaked havoc on Zimbabwe and has negatively impacted on South Africa’s political image. In a desperate move to resolve Zimbabwe’s political problems, deep seated members in the ANC wanted an entirely different approach to the Zimbabwe crisis as opposed to Mbeki’s quiet diplomacy. Frustrated ANC members wanted Mbeki to openly condemn Robert Mugabe’s land reforms which has culminated in the mass murderers of white farmers and MDC cadres. The ANC also wanted Thabo Mbheki to condemn Mugabe’s habit of clinging to power. In the same breath, Africa and the rest of the world accused Mugabe of rigging that country’s elections, which would have seen Morgan Tsvangirai become Zimbabwe’s first democratically elected president, since Robert Mugabe’s regime.
Thabo Mbeki’s failure to resolve conflicts affecting SADC regions especially Zimbabwe’s crisis was seen by many especially the United States and European union as a major blow to Africa’s political and economic development. He failed miserably and his silent approach only contributed to that country’s tragic political and economic demise. Last month, Prime minister Morgan Tsvangirai boycotted Zimbabwe’s power sharing deal with Robert Mugabe but has since called off his boycott and has now demanded Robert Mugabe implement the agreements on the pertinent issues which that country is concerned about. To date, the political situation in Zimbabwe is still unripe with no talk bearing fruit.  Zimbabwe is yet to see positive results of a power sharing government.
Zimbabwe, a country once known as the bread basket of Africa has the highest inflation rates and now lies in the shadows of its former glory; isolated, plagued by starvation and violence, and currently sits on economic sanctions slapped on its government by international institutions.
The tragic events of  that country’s political and economic events have seen an influx of Zimbabwean refugees cross into South Africa in order to escape political unrest and starvation in their own country. Everyday,  some hundreds of Zimbabweans brave the storms to seek refuge in South Africa. Of these immigrants, a large 80% are illegal immigrants who resort to crimes ranging from white collar crimes to violent crimes in order to survive the streets of South Africa, especially Johannesburg. Whilst it is a fact that most of these crimes are partly committed by indigenous south Africans, illegal immigrants from all over Africa seeking a better life in South Africa yet end up finding themselves on the streets of South Africa are more likely to commit crimes on a regular basis in order to survive the harsh realities of life on the streets.
There has been a disturbing increase in crime in recent months with banks being targeted. Crimes committed regularly include rape,  senseless murders, house robberies, car thefts, car hijackings, with the introduction of ATM bombings in 2008 being the latest crime fashion.
South African police are been full on their hands and a record high of police lives have been lost in the line of duty in their quest to combat these crimes.
Add xenophobia attacks to the list and you know Zuma’s government faces major challenges in winning back the confidence of its electorate. In 2008, South Africa experienced one of the worst crimes committed by Africans against each other in xenophobic attacks. Hundreds of foreigners were viciously attacked a year ago by indigenous South Africans who accused foreign Africans especially Zimbabweans of taking what is left of their economy. Lack of government’s failure to deliver on its promises fuelled anger amongst South Africans living in squalor, hence the underlying motivation behind the xenophobia attacks. South Africans living in abject poverty have since taken to the streets to protest against government’s failure to deliver on its promises. In recent weeks, Xenophobia has reared its ugly head again in De Doorns in the western cape forcing some 2,400 African foreign immigrants to vacate their homes and failing to report for work.
Despair and pent up anger amongst indigenous South Africans living in deplorable conditions in shanty compounds has reached fever pitch as they helplessly watch their foreign counterparts rise up to economic challenges.
However, in spite of all these challenges, President Jacob Zuma insists that job creation, crime reduction and alleviating poverty is top of the agenda on his list, but people are increasingly getting frustrated and are taking to the streets in mass protests in an attempt to have their voices heard, and their patience is fast running out.
The United States and European union have urged Zuma to speed up change in Zimbabwe so that there is a change of leadership in that country. They have openly condemned Mugabe’s constitution and land reforms and continue to lash out at Mugabe for bringing that country to its tragic fall and subjecting his people to starvation and violence.
With corruption and a tendency of practicing half baked democracies being the norm in most African countries,  the United States and European union demand governments adhere to its mandate. It warns African governments and other undemocratic governments around the world to rid themselves of corruption and practice transparency in order to qualify for funding which could save their economies.

Hard pressing challenges are looming over the ANC’s shoulders and the world is now watching Zuma closely more than ever before with keen interest and anticipation, to see how his government rises to these challenges-By Sheria Mwangala, Freelance journalist,  Johannesburg South Africa.

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