Notes from underground

يارب يسوع المسيح ابن اللّه الحيّ إرحمني أنا الخاطئ

Archive for the tag “politicians”

Mbeki — world’s worst President?

John Carlin, writing in the Guardian Unlimited, asks “Is Mandela’s heir one of the world’s worst presidents?” and after praising Mandela goes on to say:

Pity, then, about his successor, Thabo Mbeki, who chose the month when Mandela is immortalised in bronze to remind us of just how far short he falls of the best his country has to offer; how strong a candidate he is to rank, with his friend Robert Mugabe, among the worst Presidents in the world.

That’s really something, in a world in which George Bush and Robert Mugabe are still going strong. Of course Tony Blair was a Prime Minister, not a president, though his style seemed to have a lot in common with P.W. Botha’s imperial presidency. Tony Blair participated enthusiastically in not one, not two, but three wars of aggression, and Carlin has the unmitigated gall to ask if Thabo Mbeki is the worst president in the world?

But since Blair has retired, he’s out of the running. Bush and Mugabe are running neck and neck for first place in the race for the title “Worst president in the world”, so let’s leave them out of it.

I look around the world at presidents and prime ministers in various countries, and ask myself, “Would I rather have X as our president than Thabo Mbeki?” And in most cases, my answer is “No”. For all his faults, Thabo Mbeki is much better than many of the heads of government of other countries.

Who would I rather have?

Gordon Brown? John Howard? Vladimir Putin? Hugo Chavez? Nouri al-Maliki? Omar Hasan Ahmad al-Bashir? Kostas Karamanlis? Angela Merkel? Levy Mwanawasa? Joseph Kabila? Romano Prodi? Guillaume Soro? Alexander Lukashenko? Ali Khamenei? Pervez Musharraf? Ehud Olmert?

I don’t think so!

Does Carlin seriously suggest that Mbeki is worse than all of those?

Mbeki has many faults, most notably his “see no evil” approach to Zimbabwe and his vacillating Aids policy, but he hasn’t yet started any wars of aggression, like Bush, or tried to suppress the opposition by force, like Mugabe.

But I’ve noticed this morning that Sky News is also trying to do a hatchet job on Mbeki, implying that he is urging people to put their faith in quack remedies rather than antiretroviral drugs. What I find interesting is that they don’t provide any evidence of their allegations — if they had a sound bite or a video clip of Thabo Mbeki saying this, it might be more convincing than the unsupported assertions that they have been making.

So I wonder — why do the Brit media suddenly have it in for Thabo Mbeki?

Thanks to Leo Africanus for the tip, though unfortunately he has disabled “Link to this post”.

What has floor-crossing achieved?

They are asking this question on the After 8 debate on SAFM this morning: what has the floor-crossing archieved?

Do they really have to ask?

We all know what it has achieved:

  • voter apathy
  • the replacement of “the people shall govern” by “the politicians shall govern”
  • government of the people, by the politicians, for the politicians
  • a banana republic

The last is based on the similarity between politicians and a bunch of bananas – they are all yellow, they hang together, and there’s not a straight one among them.

As long as the constitutional court allows crosstitution, South Africa will not be a democracy.

The crosstitutes are at it again

It’s floor-crossing season again, when South Africa abandons democracy and is ruled by a self-elected, self-serving bunch of politicians.

The worst thing about it is not the behaviour of the politicians. Politicians can be expected to be self-serving. The worst thing about it is the behaviour of our constitutional court, which has utterly failed in its duty to protect our democracy by allowing it to be destroyed in this fashion. One must seriously question the integrity of the judges of the Constiutional Court.

The Constitutional Court is supposed to evaluate legislation in the spirit of the constitution, and its fundamental principles. And one of the principles of the Constitution, one of the principles that the liberation struggle was fought for, was “the people shall govern”.

While that may be true for the first 18 months after an election, for the rest of the time the people do not govern, and South Africa is ruled by an unelected oligarchy.

As The Weekender reported, even before it began the floor-crossing window was stained with “allegations of bribery, threats of violence, and offers of sexual favours”.

The crosstitutes bring South Africa into disrepute. The Constitutional Court, by allowing crosstitution, brings South Africa into even more disrepute. Is the Constitutional Court there to protect our democracy, or to preside over a political brothel?

In a constituency system, where candidates are elected in their personal capacity, and their names appear on the ballot paper, floor-crossing is permissible, and may be judged good or bad according to circumstances. In a proportional representation system, however, where the names of candidates do not appear on the ballot paper, but are nominated on party lists, the politicians cease to represent the electorate the moment they leave the party that put them on its list.

What makes it so difficult for our Constiutional Court judges to understand this?

Pipes and politicians

As the urbane pipe-smoking Thabo Mbeki nears the end of his second term as President, people’s thoughts are turning to possible successors. And many people are becoming increasingly nervous about the suitability of Jacob Zuma, the heir-apparent.

There’s a whiff of scandal about Zuma, after his well-publicised connections with crooked businessman Shabir Shaik, and the play-within-a-play rape trial, which looked like a rather clumsy put-up job by people who were also nervous about the prospect of JZ as president.

And one can’t blame them for being nervous.

Whether any of the mud slung at him sticks or not, let’s face it, the man is thick. He’s even thicker than George Bush. I have a growing fear that he might do to South Africa what George Bush has done to the USA.

And some are suggesting that the constitution should be amended to allow Thabo Mbeki to serve a third term. That also makes me a bit nervous. Not that I think a third term of Thabo Mbeki would be a bad thing, but it only puts off the day when a successor needs to be found. And if the successor is someone like Jacob Zuma, or Mad Bob Mugabe, a third term would be horrible.

People are talking about roping in Tokyo Sexwale. Well, he didn’t destroy Gauteng when he was premier, so I rather hope he makes it. Any alternative to JZ seems a good idea. The more I think about the prospect of a JZ presidency, the more I appreciate Thabo Mbeki. When I look around at the political leaders of other countries, or at least the ones I know about, I think how lucky we are to have Mbeki. I’d much rather have him than someone like Bush, Blair, Putin or Mugabe.

And then I realise that I can’t actually name any others. When I was younger I used to take more interest in practical politics and could name the Presidents or Prime Ministers of a couple of dozen countries, and suddenly I realise that I no longer know most of them. Who ruled Zambia after Kaunda, or Tanzania after Nyerere? The only recent ones I remember are the ones who made wars, like Bush, Blair, Saddam Hussein, Milosevic, Tudjman, Izetbegovic and Olmert. The names of the present rulers of Serbia, Croatia and Bosnia escape me. As Shakespeare said, the evil that men do lives after them, the good is oft interred with their bones. That’s rather sad.

But back to Thabo Mbeki… In spite of his making some questionable decisions, I’d still rather have him than most of the others. But come to think of it, his pipe hasn’t been much in evidence lately. Has the anti-spoking lobby got to him? Has he given up smoking it? Or has he just given it up in public, as bad for his public image? Does he go out into the garden and only smke it when x metres away from a building, and preferably downwind of it?

How long will it be before the anti-smoking lobby excise all references to “pipe-weed” from Lord of the Rings, I wonder? And what would the Inklings make of the anti-smoking lobby?

The other pipe-smoking politician I remember is Harold Wilson, and I sometimes wonder if Thabo Mbeki hasn’t modelled himself on Wilson, at least to some extent. He’s probably a bit brighter than Wislon (as the Grauniad might have referred to him), but they have one thing in common. Wilson had great problems with Rhodesia and Smith, and Mbeki has great problems with Zimbabwe and Mugabe. Mbeki’s problems are a bit more serious, though. I don’t think 3 million Rhodesian refugees went to Britain.

Post Navigation