President debate not settled yet

The three-day ANC policy conference ended with its participants declaring it a success.

The three-day ANC policy conference ended with its participants declaring it a success.

Contentious issues were concluded on the note that the party has emerged more united.

Success and unity were not really under trial.

At issue was whether or not the ANC would be forthright in arriving at a position on where it stands vis-a-vis the looming duality on the party's presidency and that of the country.

That President Thabo Mbeki has offered to stand for a third term at the ANC's conference in December, since the party's constitution is silent on the matter, while the country's constitution would see him step down as president of the country by the 2009 general elections, the presidential debate is far from being settled.

Until the party's constitution finds it within its logic to pronounce on the matter, the dilemma on whether the country can have a president who is not the president of the country will persist.

This makes Mbeki's availability for a third term a curious departure from practice.

Former president Nelson Mandela became president of the country on the strength of him being ANC president and it was the same case with Mbeki.

It is only at the point of the expiry of Mbeki's second term as president of the country that being president of the ANC does not necessarily mean being head of the country.

Opposition to Mbeki availing himself for a third term does not for a moment suggest that he is unfit to govern.

It does, however, conjure interpretations that either he (Mbeki) sees no capability beyond himself or that the ANC suffers from political inertia.

Whether this fear of the unknown can be blamed on Mbeki or the party, both sides should come out clean on what exactly is the source of their fears.

Ordinary people who have no direct role on who becomes president of the country, other than ANC members, deserve to know.

The answer should be provided with the same courage that the ANC delegates displayed when they dealt with this very same matter at their policy conference.