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Throwdown in Polokwane

Thabo Mbeki's last triumph was to see the prospect of corruption charges laid against his victorious rival Jacob Zuma

By Stephen Chan   January 2008

The week before Christmas is not normally a time for political upheaval, but an exception has been made this year in Polokwane, South Africa. Unfortunately, reactions to the ANC national conference, which concluded this week with the selection of former vice-president Jacob Zuma as the party’s new leader, have been alarmist and turned each of the two leading figures into caricatures. It has been Mbeki, the aloof and technocratically sound intellectual, against Zuma, the charismatic and dangerously flawed populist. But there is much more to it than that.

For the past 18 months there has been intense manoeuvring within the…

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