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THEWORLDTODAY.ORG DECEMBER 2007

SOUTH AFRICA: ANC LEADERSHIP William Gumede

PAGE 23

Party or the People?

Ninety-five years after its founding and with more than a decade in government, the African National Congress is facing its sternest test: the democratic election of a new leadership. So far the signs are not good, old habits of power politics and ethnic posturing seemed to stand in the way. It is a divisive affair which has fallen short on new ideas and a sense of purpose for the nation.

sOUTHAFRICA IS AT A TIPPING POINT. THE African National Congress (ANC), the former liberation movement turned ruling party, is about to attempt its first competitive leadership succession at its national conference this month. Like most African liberation movements, it is finding a free election in the second or third generation destabilising. The ANC has had no experience of an electoral contest for its presidency in the last forty years. During the apartheid years its leader in exile, Oliver Tambo, was initially appointed acting president. This was formalised later because the ANC argued it could not hold competitive elections while abroad. Before the ANC took power in 1994, Nelson Mandela was elected Tambo’s deputy, and when Tambo fell ill, Mandela, as the most active senior leader, got the top job by consensus. Current ANC President Thabo Mbeki was the third in a row to be chosen unopposed, in a ballot that was decided beforehand by party elders. At the time, the then ANC General Secretary Cyril Ramaphosa, now a prosperous businessman, was the most popular choice, and even had the backing of Mandela.

LEADERSHIP CANDIDATE JACOB ZUMA/DENNIS FARRELL/ASSOCIATED PRESS

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