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South Africa’s Ruling Party to Employ Mbeki’s Help Ahead of General Election


The decision by the leader of South Africa's ruling African National Congress (ANC) party to involve deposed President Thabo Mbeki in the ANC campaign ahead of next year's election is generating intense debate. Jacob Zuma reportedly said Tuesday that the ruling party would ask former President Mbeki to help campaign for the ANC for next year's general election. Some partisans say Zuma's move is an attempt to reconcile the party after Mbeki was forced to resign.

This follow reports that Mbeki loyalists may split from the ruling party to form an opposition party that would challenge the ANC in next year's general elections. The ANC's internal political temperature has reportedly risen since Mbeki was forced to resign last month over allegations he meddled in a corruption case against Zuma.

Somadoda Sikeni is a political analyst. He tells reporter Peter Clottey from Pretoria that the ruling party's decision to enlist the services of Mbeki ahead of the elections is shocking.

"This statement is certainly not expected given the fact that the ANC leadership has removed Thabo Mbeki in a very acrimonious bitter struggle for leadership. But what seems to inform this is the fact that there is quite a sizable number of ANC leadership and followers who are unhappy about the manner in which the former President Thabo Mbeki was removed, and this coming so close to elections seem to be a challenge for the ANC and may actually cause them some of the voters, and to that extent as the last ditch effort to prevent any split, which is rumored and the formation of a new party that may contest the very same constituency as the ANC," Sikeni said.

He said there is no reason to think that Mbeki would reject the ruling party's call to campaign for the ANC ahead of next year's elections.

"I do think that he (Mbeki) would still maintain that he is a disciplined member of the ANC, but it is unlikely that he would simply accept this call unconditionally because after some of the public insults and pronouncements against him coming from some leaders of the ANC without the top leadership coming in to say no this is not how we do things. He (Mbeki) is more likely to force them to address that issue first," he noted.

Sikeni said Mbeki has filed a case in court to defend himself against the allegation that he politically influenced the graft charges against ANC leader Jacob Zuma.

"He (Mbeki) has launched an appeal against the judgment of judge Nicholson to clear his name from the inferences drawn, which indicated that he might have politically influenced the judicial process, especially the trial of Jacob Zuma. To that extent with those two things pending it is unlikely that he would accept this call for him to campaign," Sikeni said.

He said it was not explicitly clear whether the party's move to employ Mbeki's help ahead of the election would heal the reported deep seated rift within the rank and file of the ruling ANC party.

"It would actually be so if there is a consistent coherent message. The challenge with the ANC today and its alliance partners is that leaders are speaking in turns sending very confusing signals. At times one attacking, one reconciling, one calling for unity, and one calling for disciplinary action that in itself is hardly an indication of a coherent body or a leadership that is united by a common approach, especially, so close to elections," he pointed out.

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