Leon out, but who’s in?

If the Democratic Alliance (DA) is to shrug aside it baggage from the past, it could hardly do better than vote Cape Town mayor Helen Zille into the top job. She has proved herself an administrator par excellence, has a strong leadership record and seems to be able to get things done. But will she able to run Cape Town as well?

The party is set to choose a new leader this weekend. Eastern Cape leader Athol Trollip — largely unknown in the wider political landscape until he announced his candidacy — is in the running, as well as the party’s chairperson, Joe Seremane. It would be a mistake to vote for Seremane, for though he is a very nice man, he seems to be largely ineffectual. For his part, Trollip grabbed headlines when he stated he was white on the outside and black inside.

The DA has 57 MPs out of 400 and little support among black people. Most of its voters are English and Afrikaans speakers, coloured people and some Indians. “Our biggest challenge in this country is the politics of identity … to break away from the shackles of race,” Zille said as she announced her candidacy last month.

Leon, it would seem, is retiring at just the right time. He has kept the ship on course, and grown his party’s share, but there still seems to be a niggling suspicion about his style of leadership. It’s probably some kind of record that he’s never — until Thursday, that is — had a meeting with Mbeki. Did they really hate one another so much that they couldn’t set up a meeting? It reeks of stubbornness, from both men, but at least they cracked smiles for the press before their private meeting. Someone must have blinked.

Trevor Manuel
On Workers’ Day, the Finance Minister bluntly told trade-union leaders to roll up their shirt sleeves when it comes to skills development and job creation — trade unions have a 50% board representation at sector education and training authorities, yet these are plagued with problems and don’t perform well. A hands-on approach never hurt anyone, after all.
Bheki Cele
The speeding KwaZulu-Natal transport minister needs to stop in more than one sense. First, he considers government officials who are late for meetings to be allowed to speed at 160km/h, endangering all those around them on the road. Secondly, when caught out doing this, he throws out accusations of racism while trying to get a newspaper to reveal the identity of the whistle-blower. Such arrogance is utterly shameful.

Most-read stories
April 26 to May 2

1. World Cup: ‘It was boys against men’
The latest chapter in South Africa’s sorry Cricket World Cup history was put down to a case of stage fright by former stars on Wednesday as the Proteas once again suffered semifinal heartache at the hands of Australia.

2. Speeding minister wants ‘racist’ whistle-blower found
KwaZulu-Natal’s transport minister on Tuesday again justified his convoy’s recent speeding and called for the name of the “racist” motorist who filmed it.

3. Sunday Times scrambles over court interdict
The front page was hurriedly pulled off the early edition of this weekend’s Sunday Times to comply with a court order barring its lead story, resulting in the newspaper being distributed without it.

4. KwaZulu-Natal rebels kowtow to Mbeki
African National Congress (ANC) deputy president Jacob Zuma’s chief lieutenants in KwaZulu-Natal — who had vowed to take on the party’s national leadership over its “clumsy” handling of Zuma — were humbled this week when President Thabo Mbeki lorded it over them in the heart of Zumaland.

5. Al-Qaeda operative in US custody
An Iraqi al-Qaeda member accused of assassination plots against Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf and other attacks was transferred by the CIA to the United States military prison at Guantánamo this week, the Pentagon said on Friday.

6. Do South Africans really exist?
The Mail & Guardian asked young professionals to describe their national identities and Ivor Chipkin, author of Do South Africans Exist?, to evaluate the responses.

7. Wolfowitz: ‘I’m a victim of smear campaign’
World Bank president Paul Wolfowitz told an investigatory panel on Monday he is the victim of a “smear campaign” aimed at forcing him to resign, as he gained renewed support from United States President George Bush.

8. ANC under pressure to tilt left
There are signs that the ruling African National Congress (ANC) is mulling a policy shift that could tilt Africa’s booming economic powerhouse to the left after more than a decade on a centrist course.

9. Name-change protest disrupts Durban
Shoppers fled and shop owners hurriedly lowered their shutters as thousands of stick- and knobkerrie-wielding protesters ran through Durban’s city centre on Tuesday to the city hall to object to plans to rename streets after African National Congress (ANC) heroes.

10. English only? Eish!
It was in the same week that my daughter’s preschool teacher suggested that we speak English to her at home that I met Ntate Koneshe and asked him how he was.

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