Motlantle vs Zuma: Shadow Boxing over SA’s
You would think the two people at the top in South Africa would agree on whether the country is in crisis. Apparently not. The deputy president thinks South Africa is in a ‘rut’ and that Mangaung represents a ‘tipping point’. The president says his deputy is ‘exaggerating’ and the country ‘is not in a crisis’. By RANJENI MUNUSAMY.
In order to serve as president and deputy president in the state, a level of like-mindedness is rather essential. The deputy president often has to serve as acting president when the president is out of the country. The two flank each other in cabinet meetings, and while executive powers are vested with the president, he would count on his deputy to support him in executing his responsibilities.
There has to be unquestioning trust between these two people in order to govern the country effectively.
The relationship between President Jacob Zuma and Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe started off like a house on fire when they were elected to lead the ANC in 2007. Since then, there appears to have been a cooling in relations. There is no longer any chemistry between the two. If anything, public interaction between the two seems somewhat forced and artificial.
Perhaps it is the functioning of the presidency that causes friction. There two have separate offices which rotate on their own axes. There are no regularly scheduled meetings between the two to discuss matters of state: the only time they meet is when they have to attend the same event. It is consequently unsurprising then that the two have developed different perspectives on major issues.
Of course, the relationship has to be viewed now through the prism of the ANC’s elective conference in Mangaung, where they are expected to compete for the position of president. Both Zuma and Motlanthe are reluctant to admit that they are now in campaign mode, although there is a subtext to much of what they say.
Signs of divergence were first evident over the handling of the disciplinary case against the former ANC Youth League President Julius Malema. From the time Malema was charged, stories were circulated that the ANC’s top officials were not united on the disciplinary action. Malema himself believed that Motlanthe, Deputy Secretary-General Thandi Modise and Treasurer Mathews Phosa would break ranks.
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