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Zuma won't have much time to party

By unknown | Dec 20, 2007 | COMMENTS [ 0 ]

Justice Malala

Jacob Zuma's supporters poured into the popular Mawetse restaurant and bar in Polokwane on Tuesday evening, hugging and speaking animatedly about their victory.

Referred to constantly as a "coalition of the wounded", the members of the ANC Youth League and other formations who smoked cigars and joked about the day's events had no air of losers about them. Indeed, the wounded were the Mbeki camp, who had dominated the lounges of the upper-class Mawetse the night before.

The Mbeki supporters were nowhere to be seen as the drinks flowed into the night. In one fell swoop, the wounded had become confident victors.

But the confident and happy smiles of those at the celebration could not hide the fact that the humble man from eNkandla faces a plethora of challenges when he leaves Polokwane as ANC president today.

Zuma's challenges pertain to the organisation that he now leads, perceptions of his ability to lead the country and the numerous legal challenges he may face if the National Prosecuting Authority does indeed charge him with corruption in the new year.

The first challenge in Zuma's in-tray is the mess that President Thabo Mbeki has left him with: a totally divided ANC, many of whose leaders are not even on speaking terms.

It is a malady identified by the new deputy president of the ANC, Kgalema Motlanthe, on the first day of the conference.

"When elected leaders at the highest level openly engage in factionalist activity, where is the movement that aims to unite the people of South Africa?" he asked.

Motlanthe went on to point to growing corruption at all levels of the party.

"When money changes hands in the battle for personal power and aggrandisement, where is the movement that is built around a membership that joins without motives of material advantage and personal gain?"

The second challenge to Zuma will be the constantly asked questions about his personal and political judgment, given his utterances in court during his rape trial, his associates such as Schabir Shaik, and the fact that Zuma cannot handle his personal finances.

His aptitude for the job, with the oft-asked question about his education levels, will also crop up.

South African business and global investors will also ask about economic policy under Zuma and the influence of the SACP and Cosatu on future direction of policy.

Finally, Zuma might be charged and convicted for corruption. Motlanthe said yesterday that "we do not have a plan in place" to deal with that eventuality.

Given that the NPA is going ahead with its investigations, the ANC and Zuma will need to apply their minds to the problem. If convicted Zuma may not walk into the Union Buildings in 2009.

Zuma might be in power in the party now, but massive hurdles stand in his way.

Given his extraordinary ability to bounce back, however, it is not a foregone conclusion that he will not win over them again.


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