President Jacob Zuma’s inclination to appoint his close friends into leadership positions, including in the SABC and other state entities, has a lot do with his being a former ANC intelligence operative.
Intelligence officers, according to Professor Somadoda Fikeni, have a tendency to be suspicious of other people and operate on the basis of self-
survival and preservation.
Fikeni said Zuma, a former member of Umkhonto we Sizwe and intelligence head of the ANC during the fight against apartheid, had carried with him all those characteristics of an intelligence operative into his reign as president of South Africa.
Fikeni was one of a number of leading academics and politicians who spoke at the start
of a two-day conference on succession of liberation movements, which began at the University of Johannesburg yesterday.
Yesterday, deliberations mainly focused on comparing the ANC’s past and incumbent leadership.
Fikeni and former ANC NEC member-turned-businessman Saki Macozoma spoke on the transition from former ANC president Thabo Mbeki to Zuma’s leadership.
Macozoma - who supported Mbeki to retain the ANC presidency in 2007 - said that 10 years later, he regretted his choice of Mbeki.
He conceded that Zuma was never his choice for ANC president, but said he and others’ choice for “Mbeki to challenge Zuma was a mistake”.
“We did not find an alternative candidate. And such a candidate was Nkosazana Zuma,” he said.
Macozoma said they thought Mbeki was going to have an easy victory against Zuma, but they had miscalculated.
Detailing reasons for their short-lived confidence, Macozoma said that before the ANC Polokwane conference in 2007, attempts were made to ask Zuma to exit his position as deputy president of the country with dignity, following allegations of fraud and corruption against him.
He said Zuma rejected all those attempts at a negotiated deal, and Mbeki, who was president, had no option but to relieve him of his duties as deputy president.
“Little did we know that with the firing of Jacob Zuma we had created an alliance of the wounded people,” Macozoma said.