it’s a big day for our country! Mr Mbeki was recalled by his party, the ruling ANC. And today he resigned. Good move. if he was impeached by a vote of MP’s in parliment, he would have lost his pension.
so i’m expecting people to react with concern and anxiety. fair enough it’s not an everyday occurence that a president resigns.
but consider this. our northern neighbour has had the same president for nearly 30 years - the only head of government in that country since liberation in 1980. many people who fear change in our country often site Zimbabwe as a sign of things to come.
but today we experienced our second change in president in the first 14 years of our fledgling democracy. Not only did our beloved first president graciously step down after his first term - setting the stage for a different tradition of leadership. Now our second president has been peacefully deposed by political rivals and will be replaced by a care-taker president till elections next year. And please note - not a single drop of blood shed. how different to the story of our northern neighbour.
Now please note - all you lovers of democracy (whether you agree with Mbeki being asked to step down or not, whether you like Jacob Zuma or not) - this transition of power is a sign of maturity. And if, in the next few days, cabinet ministers stick around and agree to work with the new president, that will also be a sign of democratic maturity. Mbeki’s resignation can (must?) be seen as the result of a democratic process within the ANC. Other alternatives are a coup - a violent unlawful change of leadership - and revolution - forceful, usually violent but morally justified change in leadership. Even if Mbeki had chosen to stay and fought impeachment in Parliment, that would have been a more protracted process, but still an extension of the democratic process.
And if, as some have predicted, followers of Mbeki move out to form a rival political movement, to contest the next elections… that could also be a sign of democratic and political maturity as our political landscape begins to reflect greater diversity, challenging the single-minded and uniform stronghold the ANC has in Parliment. No political party should enjoy (i believe) an outright majority in Parliment. A change in the constitution should always be the result of multi-party consultation and agreement. When opposing political groups have to come together to effect a change in the constitution, then there is safety that changes are not just being made to suit the best interests of a political party, rather than the best interests of the country. (A good example of the ANC majority in parliment being misused was the decision to allow floor-crossing.)
many things can be said about the events of today. and everyone is justified their opinion. the one thing that can not be said about us today is that we are a banana republic. political intrigue and power mongering is alive and well in our Republic…
Viva Democracy Viva!