THE days when jetting off to places like Chile or Paraguay were considered a political in-joke are long gone, but the fact remains that South Africa’s head of Aikona!-stan is beginning to look suspiciously like he is on a perpetual state visit to parts unknown. Could it be that Thabo Mbeki is trying to avoid something?
Surely ones heart goes out to our globetrotting “el Presidente” who, like the last Pope, is possibly the most well-trekked of any statesman, bar Madiba of course — who does set a hard act to follow by his wilful insistence on outlasting the last Great Trek. Perhaps its time then to reassess the “four years and you’re out” precedent set by our last president? At least we know where Mbeki stands on a host of issues, that while idiosyncratic, have tended towards social justice and peaceful development of our continent.
Jacob Zuma on the other hand, with his powerbase in Shaikland was a moral regeneralisation accident waiting to happen. In fact there is so little leadership material left after the ANC purges of the late-nineties and bribery, corruption and scandal-mongering of the last five years, that one could be excused for wanting to call for a complete halt to the notion of party political presidenting. Perhaps its time to just re-elect our president by popular vote, American-style, and throw in a short-stick, thin-wedgey, South American Banana Republic, with a virtual life-presidency that might just avoid the pitfalls of national dictatorship a la Robert Mugabe?
Then again, one feels rather sorry for South African politicians of all persuasions, those who are forced into political office by the votes of one of the most loudest, rambunctious and gregarious, of nations. Imagine having to endure fajita after fajita, tacos and nachos grande after grande, pursued by screaming soccer fans who aren’t half interested in either your policies or your lawmaking, but just want the queue to the 2010 World Cup ticket office to end? My choice for next president — Zenadine Zedine, and deputy, not Beckham but the great Pele (if he’s still alive, but if not, so what, who cares?).
[copyleft 2005, some rights reserved, reprint with permission]