AROUND the world many people feel they have a stake in South Africa's future even if they have never been to the country or known a South African person. Often the feeling comes from unqualified admiration of Nelson Mandela, his long struggle and enlightened leadership -- and with it an anxiety that his achievement in creating a multi-racial democratic nation might be lost by his successors.
Thabo Mbeki who followed Mandela as president lacked the personality necessary for the job; he was succeeded by the present president, Jacob Zuma, who has charisma to spare but also sometimes expresses views of a character not inkeeping with Mandela's vision of a tolerant and moderate state.
Recently President Zuma's qualities have been tested by the rise of Julius Malema, leader of the African National Congress' Youth League, whose racial outbursts, personal attacks on the president and insults of neighbouring states have become an embarrassment to the ANC as a whole and a challenge to Zuma's leadership. Yesterday, however, it became known that Malema has been expelled from the Congress party for five years, a decision immediately interpreted as reflecting President Zuma's strength in the party and determination to avoid an assault on its principles.
In January next year the ANC will celebrate the centenary of its founding with the aim of achieving fundamental political, social and economic change for the African people.