January 19, 2004

Manuel: "ANC not satisfied with half of the government"

Fragile party political coalitions, which have created a semblance of stability in Western Cape and KwaZulu-Natal over the past five years, were shattered as the African National Congress (ANC) tore into its partners in a bid to wrest direct control of all nine provinces. The ANC will be pitting itself against its coalition partners, the New National Party (NNP) in Western Cape and the Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) in KwaZuluNatal, for the right to rule alone in the two provinces. According to the ANC's national executive committee these provinces remained, to varying degrees, "stuck in the pattern of apartheid rule". Their residents were "deprived the freedom and progress enjoyed by the rest of the country". Finance Minister Trevor Manuel, addressing supporters at the Western Cape provincial launch of the ANC election manifesto in Guguletu, said ANC control of the province was necessary for the party to seize the political agenda and implement its antipoverty and job creation policies. The ANC, Manuel said, was not satisfied with half of the government. "Our plan is about delivering victory for the ANC in all nine provinces, without any apologies." However, ANC Western Cape leader Ebrahim Rasool was careful to stress that while the ANC wanted control so that it could drive its policies without compromise, it would not completely sideline the NNP after the poll. The ANC wanted the "unfettered" ability to rule, he said.

Currently the coalition government with NNP leader Marthinus van Schalkwyk as Western Cape premier is based on the 1999 election outcome, which gave the ANC 42% of the vote and the NNP 38%. Rasool has indicated that the allocation of the premiership would be up for discussion after the election. In KwaZulu-Natal the IFP and ANC both hold roughly 40% of the vote. IFP leader Mangosuthu Buthelezi claimed that the party's coalition with the ANC in the province existed only in theory and was practically nonexistent. "Our relations are at zero point." Buthelezi would not say whether the IFP would be prepared to revive the coalition government it had with the ANC in the province after the elections. (Business Day, Johannesburg)

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