Pathetic Lekota must be allowed to fall on his sword

YOU would need a heart of stone not to feel something for the pitiable figure Mosiuoa Patrick Lekota has become.

YOU would need a heart of stone not to feel something for the pitiable figure Mosiuoa Patrick Lekota has become.

The "Terror" he used to unleash on the opposition in his soccer-playing days is gone and so is the bravado and arrogance of the "Big Man" who used to be ANC national chairperson.

His regrettable chastisement of his ANC elders wishing "to rule from the grave" seems to be back to haunt him in his current position as beleaguered Cope president. Now, only now, will he appreciate how it felt for Nelson Mandela to be humiliated in the manner Lekota did in his heyday.

A casual reading of his character from the time he stirred the hornet's nest and ruffled civic feathers as Free State premier through to his tenure in the ANC NEC until he served divorce papers on the movement is that he loves power.

The cliché that power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely seems to have been coined with the persona of Lekota in mind.

He should have taken the cue from the people's power that unseated him in the Free State in favour of the late Ivy Matsepe-Casaburri. Obviously, with his head-in-the-sand style of leadership, Lekota chose to ignore all the warning signs. You would think that he must have read the writing on the wall when he was heckled in December 2007 in Polokwane.

By now, knowing him, he might have misconstrued the fall of Thabo Mbeki at the watershed conference as just a temporary inconvenience. As always, he was proved wrong again.

The height of his power-mongering came in the embryonic stages of Jacob Zuma's marriage to his signature struggle song, Awuleth' Umshini Wam.

In the sneering words of the then high-riding Lekota, only a dim-witted individual would not appreciate the folly of belting out such pugnacity.

True to the nature of tinpot despots, he was putting his foot down, asserting his power. A native speaker of the language of Moshoeshoe, he couched this reprimand in isiZulu so that the other man would hear him well.

He was not mincing his words.

New kid on the political block Cope came into being, the Shikota that held the promise of making the all-powerful ANC see the error of its ways.

On the sidelines sceptics sniggered, dismissing the former military strongman as a sore loser who did not take kindly to being just a rank-and-file member of the ANC.

Many times analysts, both qualified and self-anointed, have written Cope's obituary, stating as the "cause of death" Lekota's propensity for brooking no dissent.

But as Cope trudged from one power struggle to another the sceptics were gradually being vindicated.

Today, as his party sees fit to apologise on his behalf over his own miscalculated statements, Lekota is a shadow of his former abrasive self.

Could his crying wolf over the party's alleged misappropriated parliamentary funds - R20million - have been another Lekota ploy at power-grabbing?

He's given no one reason to believe otherwise.

Like a naughty child he now wails: please forgive me.

How the mighty have fallen! Allow the man to fall on his sword.