« Previous | Main | Next »

Changing of the guard in South Africa?

Post categories:

Robin Lustig | 14:29 UK time, Wednesday, 19 December 2007

Jacob Zuma is not yet President of South Africa, but after his election as leader of the ANC, it’s hard to see what now stands in his way (apart, that is, from the outstanding matter of some corruption allegations which may yet result in criminal charges being brought against him).

So from Nelson Mandela to Thabo Mbeki, and from Mbeki to Zuma. It’s quite a political path the country has walked down since those unforgettable days of 1994, when against all expectations, South Africa made the transition to multi-racial democracy without drowning in blood.

Mbeki was nothing like Mandela, and Zuma is nothing like Mbeki. I have had the rare privilege of interviewing all three of them, and it’s hard to imagine three men more different. Mandela: patrician, dignified, forgiving. Mbeki: aloof, intellectual, reserved. Zuma: outgoing, charismatic, larger than life.

So what would South Africa be like if one day Jacob Zuma is President? He is already promising much for those who have yet to see much material benefit from the ending of apartheid. And he certainly seems able to engender the kind of popular enthusiasm that Mbeki has never been very good at.

But his former financial adviser is already in jail after having been convicted of corruption. Zuma himself has been at the centre of corruption allegations for some years now – he denies all wrong-doing and insists that the allegations are politically-motivated. In 2005, he was also charged with rape, and acquitted, but not before admitting having had unprotected sex with a woman he knew to be HIV-positive. (He was head of the National AIDS Council at the time.)

For now, he and Mbeki insist that they will work together. But the contest for the party leadership was sometimes an ugly business, and there are doubts about how long their dual stewardship will survive. On last night’s programme. the general secretary of the trade union movement COSATU, Zwelinzima Vavi, who was among Zuma’s staunchest supporters, told me there’s no question of any “revenge”. You can hear my interview with him and the rest of our coverage of Zuma’s election here.


  1. At 03:35 PM on 19 Dec 2007, Dmitri wrote:

    I can't see Zuma and Mbeki working together at all.
    They are not going to cover up their resentment of each other for long are they?
    This is a bad day for South Africa even if it is a good day for the democratic process.

    Complain about this post
    Post a complaint

    Please note Name and E-mail are required.

    Contact details
  2. At 05:37 AM on 20 Dec 2007, Omar Al-Sharkawi wrote:

    The fact is that Africa from east to west need to change the old guard, especially Guard located in Egypt, which embodies the chest NDP almost more than a quarter of a century
    Omar Al-Sharkawi

    Complain about this post
    Post a complaint

    Please note Name and E-mail are required.

    Contact details

This post is closed to new comments.

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.