South Africans will celebrate a decade of democracy but ask
tough questions about their government's HIV-AIDS policy and diplomacy
South Africa will host Africa's biggest celebration this year, the tenth anniversary of the demise of the apartheid government. Yet South Africans also suffer the terrible tragedy of HIV-AIDS. Free anti-retroviral drugs for some five million patients will remain the key issue. President Thabo Mbeki timed elections to coincide with the anniversary and the African National Congress will use 'Ten Years of Freedom' as its campaign slogan. This could win it a two-thirds majority and the power to change the constitution, also enabling it to capture the only province it doesn't control, Kwa-Zulu Natal (KZN), from Chief Mangosuthu Buthelezi's Inkatha Freedom Party. Elsewhere, Inkatha's uneasy alliance with the mainly white Democratic Party under Tony Leon won't threaten the ANC. The hard fight will be against voter apathy, especially in strongholds such as the Eastern Cape, where supporters are disappointed by poverty and unemployment ten years on. Whoever Mbeki picks as deputy president will be seen as his preferred successor. We hear he plans to keep the incumbent, Jacob Zuma, for a while and may publicly defend him against corruption allegations. The President's advisors, surprised by the level of ANC support for Zuma, hope he will be destroyed by revelations at the trial of his business partner, Schabir Shaik, later this year. Mbeki's preferred replacement would be his old friend, Foreign Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, Jacob's ex-wife. Failing that, Mbeki would prefer Safety and Security Minister Charles Nqakula to the activists-turned-businessmen Cyril Ramaphosa or Tokyo Sexwale; others in line include Gauteng Premier Sam Shilowa, Limpopo Premier Ngoako Ramatlhodi and Reserve Bank Governor Tito Mboweni.
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