Zuma for Pres? Jacob Zuma has defeated South Africa’s President Thabo Mbeki to win the leadership of the country’s ruling ANC. Mr Zuma won the votes of more than 60% of the delegates at the leadership conference to claim victory. The result follows two days of bitter debate, during which President Mbeki was heckled by supporters of Mr Zuma. Correspondents say that Mr Zuma will now become the frontrunner to take over as president when Mr Mbeki is obliged to stand down in 2009. — Food for thought

What a difference a decade makes. Sunday will go down as the day on which President Thabo Mbeki lost the leadership of the ANC, but it’s party chairperson Terror Lekota who goes home with the biggest headache. What a day! It’s never been this good (for journalists) and so bad (for the ANC). The day ended as it began: with a bewildered NEC being implored to stay behind in the plenary hall by a chairperson who has lost his power. Terror Lekota has had a terrible day; only slightly worse than that of President Thabo Mbeki who watched his authority disappear in full glare of the media and of a party that turned his back on him. Delegates exacted an awful revenge on Lekota; he was gerrymandered every step of the way. He failed to chair the meeting and twice had to be rescued by the party’s secretary general, Kgalema Motlanthe, who looked more presidential than anybody else on the podium. It’s a massive irony as he was the Jacob Zuma of the Mafikeng conference 10 years ago: the man whom delegates used as their lightning rod to score the changes they wanted then. — Ferial Haffajee, Mail & Guardian blog

The man feared by big business gets up. Since South Africa’s democratic début from apartheid in 1994, there has been no meaningful opposition to the ruling ANC party. This means that whoever is voted leader of the party, is guaranteed to be the country’s next president. (arms deal convictions not-withstanding). Jacob Zuma has pitched himself as the “friend of the the little man” a “revolutionary” and has strong ties with the trade unions, youth league and Communist party. In other words he is dreaded by big business, and the middle to upper classes. In a country riddled with crime problems, his signature tune “Awuleth’ Umshini Wami” or (bring me my machine gun) is grossly inappropriate and irresponsible. SouthAfricaLogue

Thabo Mebeki or Jacob Zuma? Many South African journalists and bloggers are unimpressed by these two very different candidates fighting for leadership of the ANC at the party’s conference in Polokwane. “What a grim choice,” writes Andrew Kenny in the Citizen. “The prospect of Mbeki’s continued racial obsessions, mad ideas on Aids, support for Mugabe and conspiracy mania makes the heart sink. If I were forced to choose, I’d choose Zuma. But he also seems to support Mugabe and, unlike Mbeki, might start taking us down the Zimbabwe road.”– Matthew Weaver, Guardian newsblog

What Zuma means. No, this post is not about Jacob Zuma (the picture above illustrates what the Western worries are, for the spectre of communism is haunting the “end of history“). I may have mentioned this before, but I don’t like to use this blog to comment on affairs outside of the Anglo-Celtic Isles. One must have an aim and stick to it – mine is to examine English politics. So, whilst Zuma’s election reflects the growing strength of working class opposition to the neoliberal consensus in South Africa and is a positive development, I won’t be saying any more. — Rebellion sucks

The winds of change. Mbeki also turns a blind eye to the AIDS crisis which is engulfing South Africa. Believing that AIDS is caused by poverty rather than HIV, Mbeki is also convinced that it can be cured by a potent mixture of beetroot, garlic and olive oil. The prescription sounds delicious, but, as yet, has no basis whatsoever in scientific fact. The appointment of Jacob Zuma, therefore, could be a breath of fresh air for South Africa. It could remove the deluded and potentially dangerous Mbeki and put in his place a man who has the potential to turn South Africa away from the ominous path on which it has been set by Mbeki. — Bits of news