THE SPINE DECEMBER 22, 2007
South Africa has been in a volcano, what with the political detritus rising up and swallowing the surrounding country.Let's start with the man whom no one dares to criticize, Mandela. No, not his wife, Winnie. Nelson himself. He couldn't stand her. After all, she was involved in various murders of opponents and in other depredations. But he could tolerate all kinds of monstrous political leaders. To him, Castro, Khaddafi, Arafat and the usual despots from sub-Saharan Africa were all in what was termed "the progressive camp." The non-aligned bloc. The fact is that, aside from Pandit Nehru, they were all tyrants and unabashed tyrants, at that. But give Mandela his due. The U.S., under a Republican president or a Democratic one, effectively tilted towards apartheid Pretoria. And the Kremlin titled toward the A.N.C. What was Mandela to do?Thabo Mkebi was Mandela's designated successor, a succession lubricated by the Rockefeller Foundation which has not yet apologized to anyone -- and especially not the South Africans -- for paving the way for president who forced the country to take his wisdom on AIDS. As it happens, his approach to HIV was that of a witch doctor, and he has still been interceding against the rational protocols that have to some extent limited the virus' death statistics.Then, in the last few weeks, Jacob Zuma has wrested control of the African National Congress from Mbeki who, in comparison to his opponents, is a very civilized man. Cry, the beloved country. Also a gangster and a crook, Zuma has inflicted on Mbeki "humiliating defeats," as William MacNamara reported to the weekend FT, and then went on to elevate Winnie Madikizela-Mandela to the ruling national executive of the Congress with the greatest number of votes of any candidates. The trajectory of South Africa, once again, is tyranny, tyranny by election.