South Africa ANC hurt by faction fighting – officials

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Factional fighting is turning the African National Congress, South Africa’s ruling party, into a “shambles” ahead of a leadership election next year, senior ANC officials say. The ANC, which helped liberate South Africa after decades of white minority rule but has failed to lift millions out of poverty, is embroiled in an internal struggle fronted by Youth League leader Julius Malema who appears to be seeking to oust President Jacob Zuma.
“Comrades put a lot of effort into dividing the organisation,” The Star newspaper quoted Secretary General Gwede Mantashe (pictured) as saying at a meeting of the ANC’s leaders. “Some comrades work for chaos and anarchy because chaos and anarchy are good forests for mischief,” Mantashe said according to an internal document of the weekend meeting obtained by the paper. ANC officials said the comments were taken out of context.

Malema, a firebrand proponent of nationalising South Africa’s mining sector, is facing a disciplinary hearing for bringing the party into disrepute and sowing division. If found guilty, the 30-year-old could be suspended or expelled, effectively removing him from the picture before Zuma seeks re-election as party leader next year.

Malema has the backing of South Africa’s poor black majority and ANC insiders say he wants to throw his support behind a party candidate who will implement his radical policies including seizing white-owned farms and taking over mines.
“Malema and the group that he represents are at the root of the problems. They are intent on destabilising the ANC and are not concerned about the impact this would have on the party and the country,” a senior ANC source told Reuters. “The party is in a shambles — factions are more concerned with using the movement for their personal aspirations rather than party objectives.”

LEADER’S CONFERENCE

The ANC will elect a leader at a conference in the second half of next year and positions including the deputy president, secretary general, chairman and treasurer will also be decided. The president of the ANC is almost assured of the country’s presidency.

The outcome of Malema’s hearing, which has been postponed to October 6, represents a high-stakes gamble for Zuma who could face a difficult future if his adversary is exonerated. The Youth League is planning two days of protests at the end of October to demand the nationalisation of mines and a greater share of South Africa’s resources. They will protest at various sites including the Chamber of Mines, the Johannesburg Stock Exchange and the seat of power, the Union Buildings in Pretoria.
“The ANC Youth League takes this approach of mass mobilisation because of our strong conviction that the betterment of the people of South Africa’s lives will not happen in boardrooms,” said a statement issued by the league.

In 2007, Malema and the powerful trade union federation COSATU helped Zuma rise to power as ANC president, with the party subsequently removing former South African President Thabo Mbeki from office before the end of his term.

Mantashe has said in recent weeks he will not let the party fall into the same sort of chaos as it did in 2007. Mbeki’s removal from office led some top members of the ANC to leave the party and create a smaller movement which has subsequently faded into oblivion. Other Mbeki supporters were largely purged from ANC structures.



The ANC source said that the party had not fully recovered from the damage caused by Mbeki’s removal. “Recalling Mbeki from the presidency saw the rot set in, which makes it difficult for Zuma to wrestle the party back from the likes of Malema,” the source said.