By Clyde N.S Ramalaine on Friday, August 19, 2011 at 10:56am
– The WITS Speech, standing ovation, Jewish Community endorsement –
It is not long before 2012, a significant year for the ANC in centenary celebration but also in elections. Whilst lanky Barrack Obama, the coolest president ever, if its only for his typical swag, is growing grey and has begun to hit the campaign trip for a second term still not sure about who will square of against him in party or opposition context.
In South Africa, we are gently beginning to see the formation of presidential campaigning. Such comes embodied in diverse form by the candidacy of Kgalema Motlanthe and Tokyo Sexwale. Of the two Motlanthe has proven much more refined and less aggressive and has managed to maintain a visibility in silence. Sexwale’s latest almost endearment of in my unequivocal opinion the True Mother of our Nation Winnie Mandela, is again prove of the diverse approach he has attempted at getting his feet into high office. I am in this note particularly focussing on true candidacy of Motlanthe.
To appreciate his candidacy objectively one must contextualise such in the internal ramblings of organisational embrace. He is perceived as neutral, the mind of sensibility, the one who is a reconciler and one who speaks authoritatively making him an uneasy opponent. It is also said of him that you cannot determine the scope of his next move for he plays his cards close to his chest. Perhaps the only, visible indication until this week was his affable response to whether he has aspirations in saying ” I will serve if the ANC so desire”.
Motlanthe has also virtually secured the vote of ANCYL, if Floyd Shivambo’s disrespect for the sitting president Jacob Zuma and pictures on facebook is anything to go by. Motlanthe was careful enough to broker a non-court deal with Masoga a youth league leader who felt strongly done in by a Malema constituency. It is my view that when he was called to arbitrate he did so, with one eye on the throne. Hence, his findings favoured Malema and necessarily sidelined the claim of a Masoga when he pronounced the ANC would not tolerate anyone from within dragging them to court. Motlanthe, proved iffy and almost shy.
I shall never forget when I spoke to Deputy President Motlanthe at the time of Zuma’s visit to China in the spring of 2010. The brief few minutes we shared at a community meeting in Claremont Johannesburg; I used to say to him, ‘Deputy President, “Why is no one protecting the sitting ANC president when hostility is made manifest from all sectors especially the Tripartite Alliance?’
I continued and said to him; remember your day will come when you will hold the same office. The deputy president received my message with dignity in his usual, nodding of the head without saying anything significant, though pensively reflecting, but an audible thank you. Let us now understand Motlanthe’s speech at WITS
Firstly, Motlanthe chose WITS as his homecoming in a veiled sense declare his ambitions for high office. Somebody may ask why WITS, those who know tell us that if Stellenbosch represents the intellectual bastion of Afrikaner intelligentsia than WITS represents the same for the Jewish cohort. Some hold the ANC elects presidents, but such usually needs endorsing by a strong Jewish lobby and constituency who still invisibly define the contours of an SA future. Motlanthe therefore proved succinct for choosing this hallowed spot of Jewish enclave to confirm his candidacy.
Secondly, every campaign must have a theme for it has to resonate with a cross-cultural constituency. Motlanthe made his pick in the most common by default or design theme of CORRUPTION. He cited that second to racism this issue proves pervasive with an equally presence in conversation embrace. He cited this as a malady.
Thirdly, if a campaign must have a theme than such campaign must have core pillars that speaks to such theme in implementation embrace. Motlanthe made his tools known, when he articulated the need for moral regeneration as no more negotiable. Such he says must find addressing in educational context, where he postulates there is need to consider incorporating ethics as subject matter in basic education embrace.
In the fourth instance, any campaign that proves insensitive for the polarised context of SA, will necessarily fail. Motlanthe took us all into his confidence in advocating for this hegemony defined in an equality of rights for all. This suggests for Motlanthe in his future presidency he will necessarily embrace this as right, which he will guarantee.
He in the fifth instance defended the right for whites to criticise the government. This is significant in a context where it appears Government do not well with Criticism, Motlanthe reassured the minority and so called marginalised ‘important’ group. He went to WITS to say under my future presidency I shall guarantee and defend your right. This is purportedly significant and a clear break with a perceived an intolerant and at times aggressive government, at least as seen from some corners have been muttering since the days of Mbeki.
Motlanthe’s defence of the right of whites to criticise government, is a dubious double edged nuanced one, for he is clever enough to endear himself to this constituency at the expense of the serving government, setting him in thinking apart from the consensus.
One is not sure how much deputy presidents’ even presidents have leeway to share the prism of their thought construct outside the parameters of policy. He definitely stayed the course and used the constitutionalism of democracy as his coached blanket. It is also a clear break in post -1994 organisational stances. Under an Mbeki, it was believed such right to criticise was necessarily condemned. Under a Motlanthe first short stint, it never surfaced, under a Zuma presidency the organisation appears to be more prone to for attack than open for it. Yet now Motlanthe tells his WITS audience under my future presidency I will accept, tolerate and protect the right of whites to criticise. The objective is pragmatism.
Motlanthe, proved academically astute in his rendition of this speech. He has always had a tinge of such yet he came out crystal clear this time perhaps it is because it was WITS. He certainly embraced scholarly, approach, by so doing giving those who believe in a post Mbeki era, such has left the presidency reason to believe the days for intellectual discourse and debate is re-welcomed as that his presidency will embrace.
Therefore, it appears whilst President Zuma immured by those who want their preferred candidate for chief Justice to ne nominated, whilst Zuma is caught up in a disrespectful ANCYL, whilst Zuma is dealing with a public protector’s report that fingers key people and some shouting inaction.
Motlanthe continues his campaign in unabated fashion. They say history repeats itself, less we forget when a Mbeki was accused for being absent in domestic context, obsessed with international Africa context in which as claimed he was proverbially boxing outside his division. Whilst, Mbeki accused for using state machinery to deal with his political enemies, Zuma campaigned unabated and garner his mass support, which led to the Polokwane of 2007 and ultimately the recalling of South Africa’s second democratic president.
Are we on the brink of seeing, Polokwane rein acted? All I dare assert is that no president ever after Mbeki will have an easy ride into a second term for the precedent for such was set.
Clyde N.S. Ramalaine
Courtesy “ Through the Prism of My Soul”