By Political Bureau
There are striking similarities between the political careers of Baleka Mbete, the speaker of the national assembly, and Jacob Zuma, the man for whom she is almost certainly going to hold in trust the office of head of state.
At some point in their lives, the two were hit by massive scandals that threatened to sink their political careers. Zuma was investigated for involvement in criminal activity and faced the prospect of a lengthy trial, conviction and jail time. Zuma has, so far, survived.
In 1997, Mbete seemed ready to bid her political career farewell when it was revealed that she had acquired her driver's licence fraudulently. Mbete was one of the 44 people under investigation by Mpumalanga police for being in possession of a fraudulent driver's licence. The scandal led to the establishment of the Moldenhauer Commission, which found that her licence was fraudulent and that Steve Mabona, the then Mpumalanga MEC for safety and security, had abused state resources to provide special treatment for Mbete.
Mbete grew up in the ANC. After going into exile in 1976 and living for most of the time in Tanzania, she has, over the years established herself as a strong activist and leader. She is also an accomplished writer and poet. After the unbanning of the ANC, she returned home and played a role in the re-establishment of the ANC Women's League, an organisation in which she served as secretary-general.