Wednesday, January 26

South Africa: atmosphere of end of reign at 110 years of the ANC

The party was ruined: the coffers are empty, the last elections were catastrophic and heads are now in danger of falling. The ruling ANC in South Africa, a once heroic liberation party, marked its 110th anniversary on Saturday in an atmosphere of end of reign.

In the stands of the stadium of Polokwane, in the province of Limpopo (northeast), a few hundred “comrades” in yellow, green and black, the colors of the party. Away from the fiery crowds of supporters carted off on buses, which the organization has often been able to muster.

The Covid had obviously imposed its rules and the crowd had to be limited to 2,000 people. But the publication a few days earlier of the first part of an expected report on state corruption under the era of former President Jacob Zuma (2009-2018), called in the country “the lost nine years” , clouded the spirits.

The document of more than 800 pages of the commission of inquiry of Judge Raymond Zondo, containing nearly four years of testimony, was given to President Cyril Ramaphosa on Tuesday, who will have to announce possible prosecutions in June.

Several party members are likely to be affected. And under the rule of “shelving” now observed by the organization in its attempt to revamp and eradicate corruption, members facing criminal prosecution are suspended.

“This commission was an idea of ​​the ANC. We will study the report and show how it will help the party to rebuild itself,” ANC’s Nomvula Mokonyane told AFP.

In the sluggishness of the afternoon, Mr. Ramaphosa delivered a long speech, also warning against recent attempts to “undermine democracy”. “These desperate efforts will fail,” he said from the podium, referring to the devastating fire last weekend in Parliament in Cape Town for which a man was charged, as well as the unprecedented violence in July. which killed more than 350 people.

– “Emptied of his blood” –

The day before, the caciques of the African National Congress played a traditional round of golf and invited their generous donors to a dinner.

But the festivities had to be limited to minimize the expenses of an organization in loss of aura but also in lack of money: “We wanted to avoid exorbitant expenses”, explained to AFP Ronald Lamola. The justice minister and party member euphemistically described the finances as “stable which must be managed occasionally.”

For months, the historic party has struggled to pay the salaries of employees who regularly demonstrate at the foot of the headquarters in Johannesburg. According to a political source, the ANC is indeed “broke” despite appeals for donations: “Including unpaid taxes, the party has a hole of at least 22.5 million euros (400 million rand) “.

On Saturday the “oldest party for the liberation of Africa” ​​as it calls itself, relied on the gods “for the country to regain its greatness”, through the voice of its representatives on Earth. A Buddhist monk and several Anglican priests prayed and asked forgiveness for the “sins” committed: “We have pulled this great movement so low that it has been despised”.

During the local elections in November, the majority of those registered did not come and the party fell below 50% of the vote, for the first time in its history.

“The party is draining its blood. Either there is a revival, or it is going to ruin,” said Themba Ubisi, a 40-year-old activist.

Since the first democratic elections in 1994, the ANC has enjoyed revered “struggle” party status among the vast majority of black South Africans. The uncertainty in each ballot has so far been about his margin of victory.

Now party representatives are haunted by the possibility of defeat in the general election in 2024. Even if most of them on the stadium lawn have done well by repeating: “The party will never fail. It will never fail. ‘never failed’.

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