Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Breakdown of trust?

There has been much talk of breakdown of trust of late. Chief spy, Billy Masethla, was recently sacked because of a purported breakdown of trust with the Thabo Mbeki. And I have l felt a serious breakdown of trust in my own relationship with state officials. I will find it very difficult to assume sincerity in their future pronouncements of policy.  It is clear now by his later actions and court testimony (well maybe not that clear - it could just be the desperate rambling of man backed into a corner) that when Jacob Zuma advocated an approach to HIV/AIDS that he did not believe this approach himself. He was following the party line. Should I trust a man who merely reads out pre-prepared policy speeches and doesn't in his heart agree with them? (OK, welcome to politics, but when it is made so blatantly evident it does destroy my faith).

I am beginning to wonder however, whether there is something more sinister behind all this talk of a conspiracy and infighting in the ANC surrounding leadership succession. Succession planning is an integral dimension of party politics and allows the still ambitious and power hungry incumbent leader to, in effect, extend his reign and influence beyond his statutory limited full term.

I am struck with the parallels with Russian politics. As Yeltsin neared the end of his term in the late 1990's there was a flurry of political motivated sacking. The BBC editorialised at the time that: He (Yeltsin) is terrified by the thought that someone who does not share his vision of the "New Russia" might come to power and undo all that he has done in the last eight years.

There is also currently much back corridor discussion about succession in the Tony Blair's Labour Party. While John Prescott's comment that "Every British Prime Minister goes eventually" is clearly tongue-in-cheek they do emphasise that succession battles could be seen as normal part of the democratic process. My concern is that in South Africa the serious debate is not happening in back corridors and the speculative mainstream media. In South Africa the details of the debate have emerged out of the judicial process, such as the Zuma trial and Saki Macozoma's legal restraint on the NIA, and commissions of enquiry, such as the arms deal enquiries. That there is a legally suspect angle to these goings on suggests that the battle has been both more sinister and clandestine than one would expect in a normal democratic process.

To conclude:
1. We are not a normal democracy,
2. Despite this, our democratic and legal checks and balances are far more robust than Russia's were, and
3. We ain't seen nothing yet!

Follow up : Darren has a some interesting thoughts on the spy scandal.

No comments: