Friends and enemies

Former president Thabo Mbeki has emerged as living testimony that there are no permanent friends or foes in politics. That in this game the only interests that matter are personal or organisational ones.

Former president Thabo Mbeki has emerged as living testimony that there are no permanent friends or foes in politics. That in this game the only interests that matter are personal or organisational ones.

Shunned in September as a political skunk after his humiliating "recall" by the ANC, Mbeki is now everybody's favourite man.

The ANC told all and sundry that Mbeki was fired because of his bad policies, with his attitude to HIV-Aids but one of the many fatal flaws of his leadership.

Now the ANC wants Mbeki to endorse the party and lobby for it ahead of next year's elections.

One can only wonder why the electorate should trust Mbeki when his organisation has repeatedly told us that he is the bad guy and that the things that work in the ruling party do so despite rather than because of him.

Elsewhere, there are some for whom Mbeki is so important that they are prepared to cause probably the most critical split in the 96-year history of the ANC. Again, they raise the name of Mbeki as the last straw that broke the back of their tolerance.

Politicians need to realise that politics are their bread and butter and unless they treat this art with some sophistication they should be prepared to live with the cynicism the average man holds about them.

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