While I was watching Manchester United battle it out with Chelsea on Sunday, Thabo Mbeki was preparing to throw in the towel. When he announced his resignation as President on Sunday evening, I think it caught many South Africans by surprise; perhaps even those like Julius Malema, (puppet-on-a-string) President of the ANC Youth League (ANCYL), one of the chief agitators for Mbeki’s ousting.
And today, nearly the rest of Mbeki’s cabinet followed suite, but not quite. The cabinet Ministers and Deputy Ministers, including the Deputy President that resigned in quick succession, were clearly his closest supporters and hand-picked henchmen (and women). What has raised my eyebrows however is the resignation of one Minister who said he wouldn’t, and those that chickened out or chose not to resign, not for the moment anyway.
Lets take a closer look at the President’s men who are no more. Of this lot, I’ll be truly happy to see the last of Essop Pahad, Minister in the Presidency; a really rude, unpleasant and arrogant man, described by Andrew Feinstein in his book “After the Party” as the “President’s rottweiler.” Good riddance also to Essop’s brother, Aziz Pahad, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, whose irritating voice (always sounded like someone was squeezing his jewels) could drive one quite mad. Also good to see going at last, is Alec Erwin, Public Enterprises Minister whose mismanagement and repeated lies in the Eskom Power debacle did not endure him to the public at large. If Ngconde Balfour and Loretta Jacobus, Minister and Deputy for Correctional Services did not resign, they should have been fired instead, for presiding over leaking jails and general maladministration of prison services. Not too much good could be said for the rest of the ship-jumpers; only Finance Minister Trevor Manuel stands out for the good work put into his Ministry which resulted in good economic growth and stability over a sustained period of time.
Back to what bothers me the most. The one person who has not resigned, but should have been canned a long time ago for gross incompetence is none other than the Minister of Alternative Medicine, the beetroot-loving, alcohol-soaked, Manto Tshabalala-Msimang. Why this pathetic disgrace to the country still clings onto her position as a Minister after being repeatedly discredited, is a mystery. Could only be the perks of the job, one of which probably entitles her to being placed first on the liver transplant recipient list.