I finally had a chance to read Charlayne Hunter-Gault’s profile of Jacob Zuma that appeared in “The New Yorker” on the eve of the World Cup final.

You need a password to read the piece. But don’t bother. It’s very elementary stuff for junkies of South African politics. Written in a dry tone, it rehashes the political contests of the last 5 years between Zuma and the now vanquished Thabo Mbeki.  Except when Hunter-Gault briefly touches on the subject of Zuma’s successor after 2013 when his term expires (remember he said he’d only run for one term) and brings up race politics–and we’re not talking about white people–within the ruling party, the African National Congress:

Zuma’s position is secure for now. His term runs until 2013, and he does not have an obvious successor within the A.N.C., a political behemoth so dominant that South Africa is essentially a one-party state. Trevor Manuel, currently the head of the National Planning Commission, may be the most respected government official in the country, but he has a fatal political flaw. He comes from a mixed-race background, and was classified as “colored” by the apartheid government, even though he identifies himself as black. When I asked people about the prospect that Manuel would himself become President, they often responded with a silent no, pointing a finger at their skin.

Manuel is not beloved by the ANC’s trade union allies (where much of the ANC’s base comes from) so it have been interesting to see how that played out. But before it gets interesting, however, Hunter-Gault moves on, predictably, to write about Julius Malema.

Further Reading

No more caricatures

Engaging seriously with Winnie Madikizela-Mandela’s life could help us understand how South Africa got where it is and where it’s going.