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.
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
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
"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.