New Era (Windhoek)

16 November 2012

Africa: Afrika - the Other Side of the Coin South Africa and the Mangaung Cliff

opinion

THE African National Congress (ANC) will choose a new leadership at its historic conference in Mangaung (Bloemfontein) a few weeks from now. The lessons from the previous conference in Polokwane in the northern Province of Limpopo should be clear and debated in order not to repeat missed opportunities.

It is quite clear that the democrats actually ride the moral high ground in South Africa. When the results were known in Polokwane in December 2007, the democrats had taken the moral high ground. It is important that the results of the elections will be accepted, since it is important to acknowledge the newly elected leader. In fact, the full conference of the ANC would have to pledge its support for the new leader.

A fine example is the recent elections in the US. When the incumbent won a second term, his rival Mitt Romney, pledged his and his party's full support for president Barack Obama. No less is expected from the ANC and all democratic structures that form the political landscape of South Africa. In other words, the ones who lose would have to accept their defeat gracefully, bearing the nation's interest at heart.

One of the lessons learnt from Polokwane is that the former ANC and South African president, Thabo Mbeki, refused to accept the election outcome. It seems wrong to go to an election, finally lose and then dissent to form a new political party in opposition to the 100-year-old ANC. That shows political bankruptcy and opportunism. The absence of sincere commitment is obvious, because dirty politicking followed. Those rejected to occupy the moral low ground.

Will this be the case at Mangaung? Will the ruling ANC elect another leader, or will the incumbent, or his challenger show South Africans the moral high ground? Will the full ANC and the country's leadership pledge to serve under the democratically elected new leader? Or, will South Africa be exposed to a similar scenario as Polokwane? What would it mean to the average South African to accept the newly elected ANC leader and president of the country and work with him or her?

It must be of serious concern to every South African, if the ANC loses the forthcoming elections, as worked on by a concerted front of mischievous institutionalised armchair academic analysts, the corporate media, the political opposition and the financiers in the shadows, the old architects of apartheid. Would the loser of those elections accept the outcome?

By not accepting the popular election-outcome from Polokwane of a new leader, recalled former president Thabo Mbeki lost the opportunity and demonstrated that he is indeed not a democrat. If the loser does not accept the election outcome, how will it be addressed? How will the loser and his inner circle deal with it? Will a losing leader strategise and plot against the democratically elected one? Or, will he accept his defeat?

Mbeki, who had gunned for a third term in office, squandered the opportunity to build his legacy. He did not accept that he had actually lost in Polokwane. In other words, Thabo Mbeki showed his weakness to the general electorate and South Africa at large. Will South Africa see a replay of Polokwane, of Mbeki, of Cope? Or will the newly elected ANC leadership coming out of Mangaung be accepted and respected?

In a radio interview with Cope leaders, Mosiuoa Lekota and Mmululeki George, Prime Media staff forgot to ask the most obvious questions, allowing both Cope leaders to lambast the ANC.

Why split from the ANC after the elections and not before, if they had problems with the movement? Why was Cope not formed before the ANC conference in Polokwane? The attacks on the ANC after Polokwane therefore, were not based on principles, but rather on opportunism. A sad case of moral bankruptcy showed its ugly face.

Throwing the toys out of the cot by snubbing the incumbent, Thabo Mbeki shows for all to see that he is the weakest, un-intellectual link. In fact, it is a worst-case scenario of infantile behaviour.

The all-out propaganda of the rightwing and its hard work at destroying the ruling ANC from within drives to achieve national intimidation of the electorate. This is enforced through national destabilisation.

That Machiavellian approach hopes to force the majority of the electorate away from voting for the ANC and, if that fails, from voting all together.

Soon South Africans will see who will fall off the Mangaung cliff.

• Udo Froese is an independent political and socio-economic analyst and columnist, based in Johannesburg, South Africa.

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