Come 2009 elections, Shikota won’t be getting my vote. While their pro-constitutional rhetoric is encouraging, it’s also hard to believe.
Where was Lekota’s commitment to the constitution when he was in Mbeki’s cabinet? He seemed quite happy to toe the party line when it came to Aids, Zimbabwe and other issues.
It’s tempting took think the likes of Lekota have had a change of heart, a damascene conversion to safeguarding and promoting our constitution and democracy. But this is extremely doubtful especially when you have Shilowa saying that the dissidents “revere” Mbeki: an autocrat whose tenure was marked by the supression of debate, demonisation of critics, racialisation, Aids-denialism, lacklustre service delivery, rampant corruption and shocking complicity in maintaining Mugabe’s oppressive regime.
Something equally revealing are the figures that are emerging within the movement. Nosimo Balindlela, the erstwhile premier of the Eastern Cape, has been welcomed by the breakaway with open arms. And yet this woman led a provincial administration plagued by corruption, ineptitude and wholesale service delivery failure.
Smuts Ngonyama is another influential member in the new party. But this man hardly represents democratic values – indeed, as Thabo’s spindoctor-in-chief and head of the presidency, he epitomised all that was callously vile and Machiavellian about the Mbeki regime.
The mask has slipped. Whatever they might claim, Shikota is not about principles or reform – such utterances appear merely to be a smokescreen to dupe the electorate into giving them back the power and influence that this cabal of Polokwane losers has lost – and now craves.
Opposition parties need to be on their guard. As Rhoda Kadalie says in her latest column:
It seems a bit far-fetched for opposition parties to support Lekota and Shilowa on the grounds of principle — the sanctity of the constitution and democracy — when they know that cabal allowed the president to flout it at every turn, with regard to the weakening of Parliament, the chapter nine institutions, the National Prosecuting Authority and his support of Jackie Selebi.
I hope I’m proved wrong. But Shikota seems little more than Mbeki 2.0: a reincarnation of the self-interested, craven elite who undermined South Africa’s hard-won democracy and, while earnestly amassing power and fortune for themselves, failed to uplift and empower the masses of people who were oppressed by apartheid.