Like a bolt from the sky

Change is traumatic, especially when it happens suddenly and unexpectedly.

Change is traumatic, especially when it happens suddenly and unexpectedly.

But then the removal of President Thabo Mbeki as head of state can hardly be passed off as a consequence of mere change. Neither could it be explained away as a foregone conclusion.

Suffice it to say the nation is still shocked by its immediacy. It came like a bolt from the sky.

Though some might argue that it had been a long time coming, there was still nothing to prepare the nation for an event that would put it so on edge.

The axing was as ill-timed as it was ill-conceived. Questionable too, given that the country was gearing up for an election in six months and therefore the inception of a new President.

What this action has done is to sow confusion and create uncertainty in the country.

For a ruling party that was still attempting to assert itself as a unified force during the past eight months, its erratic post-Polokwane course hardly inspired public confidence in its capacity to steer the nation through this difficult period.

Tough times demand tough and resolute leadership, which has not quite been the mark of the new ANC top brass.

The signs of a tremor had been building up slowly, showing up party president Jacob Zuma as presiding over a party gradually eating up its own muscle.

Since Polokwane the two centres of power had gradually imposed a paralysis and ambivalence that served to widen the gap between ruling party and government.

It had not helped too that Zuma had been preaching unity to an increasingly fractious party.

The next weeks should put immense pressure on our democracy as both government and the ANC try to minimise the effect of the Mbeki fallout.

As they do so, we urge them to put national interest first rather than engage in political point-scoring that will compound matters.

We trust that the character of our democracy will gain in strength through these trying times.

That said, we salute President Thabo Mbeki for his great leadership.