Jacob Zuma: Africa's Delicate Dance with Federation

I think its the poet Judah Halevi who wrote, " all speech goes weary in pursuits that flies..." On August 8th, South Africa will vote whether secretly or publicly on a vote of no confidence for Jacob Zuma. So crucial is the August 8th parliament vote that South Africa sits at the precipice of either a civil war or the deepening of its post Apartheid democracy.
Sadly, anti-Zuma factions have failed to acknowledge South Africa's violent past and how a no confidence vote ousting Zuma will polarize South Africa's biggest tribe - the Zulus. It is a mistake of staggering magnitude that Africa's tribal heritage is ignored in its politics by Western educated leaders in Africa. To remove a Zulu president summarily is a deeply humiliating gesture to the Zulu - to say South Africa or any African country is post-tribe is courting death itself. Some tribal wars are going into their fifth century in Africa.
Current President Zuma has faced many such votes before, seven at the party level with the African National Congress - Mandela's vote, but August 8th vote is different because it comes in the wake of South Africa's fight with corruption. Here, losely defined as"capturing the state." A shallow accusation not tested by legal conviction but by popular tone and demagoguery. In South Africa, the use of the National Prosecution agency, Hawks etc, against political enemies in pursuit of revenge is the problem, not unfounded social accusations of corruption.
What August 8th means for South Africa is that protest politics trumps the natural constitutional tenure of any president. that dissent trumps electoral mandate. That an unpopular president should resign. Unfortunately, this will create what it has created in many countries, from the Balkans to North Africa - the politics of federated tribes. And in turn this factionalism or tribalism can only be cured by a federated country like German for example.
Already, South Africa the young country, old in institutions but young in National character, shows that it would benefit with the adoption of a Federation whose boundaries are based on the concept of self-determination. A south Africa with self determinate provinces province and with a central federal system such as in German or United States would deal with provincial and municipal democracy issues where people, such as some Africankers, feel unrepresentated. To suggest that South Africa can sustain peace as a rainbow nation in which electotoral mandates are dismissed by popular will is merely to stroke the coals of lunacy. An elected president who does not wish to step down, creates in his refusal a constituency - in Zuma's case a tribal knee jerk reaction.
Mandela's rainbow nation was one vision of South Africa as a country, but now a more realistic vision must be debated to continue to maintain peace; that of a Federated South Africa - The United Federation of South Africa. Section 235 of the South African Constitution allows for the self-determination of a community - a negotiated clause in the settlement which ended Apartheid. Clearly, given the problem with President Jacob Zuma there are deeper issues at play on August 8th.
Ken Sibanda is an American Constitutional attorney, and the author of International Law: Peace Accords. Born in Transkei, South Africa, he is a member of the Lemba Jewish tribe.