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South Africa’s President Said Considering Early Polls If He Loses to Ex-VP

South Africa’s President, Thabo Mbeki says he is considering calling for an early parliamentary elections if he fails in his unprecedented third term bid to become the leader of the ruling African National Congress (ANC) party. President Mbeki’s third term bid is in danger after former deputy president Jacob Zuma, whom he had sacked over graft allegations, came first in recent provincial elections. Some political observers say Mbeki may become a lame duck president if Zuma wins the upcoming ANC presidential contest later this month.

Analysts say Mbeki, who is not allowed to run for re-election as state president, wants to remain head of the ANC to significantly influence the country's politics and help pick his successor.

Adams Habib is a South African political analyst. From Johannesburg he tells reporter Peter Clottey Mbeki has one of three options to consider if he loses out to Zuma.

“I’m not again surprised that he has done that. I mean if Thabo Mbeki were to lose in Polokwane and practically as he did last weekend with provincial nominations, then he would be a lame duck president. And already there have been rumors coming out of the Zuma camp that they would move and begin to explore the possibility of a motion of vote of no confidence and then calling early elections,” Habib said.

He said President Mbeki has some options to consider ahead of the ANC’s December election to choose its next possible leader.

“There are three options available; one is Thabo Mbeki can call an early elections and then through the election process a new candidate president of the ANC can assume the position of head of state. The second is he can simply do what had happened in the UK (United Kingdom) with transfer of power from Blair to Brown where he effectively stands down and then the MP’s (Members of Parliament) first would have to elect Jacob Zuma if he is the presidential candidate to the national parliament and then from there choose him to become president. Or thirdly, there is a possibility that President Mbeki actually refuses to stand down and a motion of no confidence is passed in his leadership by the national legislature, and they call early elections,” he noted.

Habib said he said Mbeki and his key supporters are considering several options.

“He is beginning to look at multiple options. I don’t think he is throwing in the towel, we do know that his lieutenants are fanning out across the country to begin to explore other possibilities wanting to see if they can make a comeback from the thrashing they got last weekend provincial votes. Secondly there is the exploration of the ideas of a compromise candidate, and so I don’t think one can predict as this stage that there is a throwing in of the towel. So I think it would probably go down to the wire and we have to wait for about 15, 16 to 17 days before we know significantly, exactly how this thing is panning out,” Habib pointed out.

He said the ruling party’s policies would not be discontinued with the absence of Thabo Mbeki as leader of the ANC.

“I think ANC policies would continue, I think one’s got to get in mind that policies are simply a product of individuals. That they largely are a product of the relations of power in the society of the national context, and given that I don’t think policies under Jacob Zuma are likely to significantly change from what they have been in the last three or four years. It’s also worth bearing in mind that policies have been changing in the last three of four years under the Mbeki administration. And I don’t thinkt hat policies under Zuma would likely change much more fundamentally than that,” he said.