The end of an era

On Sunday night I watched in amazement as former President Thabo Mbeki addressed the nation for the last time as the president of South Africa live on SABC 3. To regard him as the former president is a hard and bitter pill to swallow. Regardless of his mistakes during his presidency (and there were many) Mbeki was a good president.

Reports in the Mail and Guardia have said that “the move threatens to shatter the foundations of the country’s post-apartheid political landscape, which has been dominated by the ANC since the end of white minority rule in 1994.”

Reports  also say that Mbeki supporters may split form the ANC and “contest elections as a breakaway party in 2009, the Sunday Times said.”

I am an ANC supporter first and a Mbeki supporter second and I find myself not knowing whether to vote in the upcoming elections or to abstain all together. As a responsible South African citizen I know I have to vote regardless of which party I vote for in order to make this democracy work.

The question I ask myself is do I really want Jacob Zuma as my president. One of the great things that Mbeki has done during his presidency is put South African on the international stage as a credible player. I find myself not having the confidence that Zuma will be able to do the same and supersede what Mbeki has already done.

Mbeki’s resignation from the highest office in the land shows the maturity of our young democracy. African leaders have been known to overstay their welcome as state presidents, Robert Mugabe being one such example. I’m crossing my fingers and toes that this will be a smooth transition.