June 1, 2006

ANC backs Mbeki's leadership

The cabinet is standing behind President Thabo Mbeki's leadership, dismissing allegations that the country was sliding towards dictatorship. The criticism was levelled by alliance partner Cosatu shortly after the SACP charged that Mbeki's dominant presidency was undermining parliament. In detail, Cosatu leader Zwelinzima Vavi had said, that the main fears of the Cosatu central executive committee (CEC) centred on signs of a drift towards dictatorship. "Examples include the decision to pull a film said to be critical of the president off the SABC, the use of public institutions, including the NPA [National Prosecuting Authority], against Jacob Zuma, the purging of an allegedly pro-Zuma faction in the security services, the arrest of Cosatu leaders at the Swaziland border and in Cape Town and the heavy handed nature of the police dealings with protests." Vavi said the CEC was concerned about a combination of processes being used to marginalise opposition. "Dictatorship never announces its arrival," he continued and added that "the main concern of the committee centres on signs that we may be drifting towards dictatorship. This appears in the use of state institutions ... in narrow factional fights".

In reaction the ANC secretary general Kgalema Motlanthe said that the statements about tendencies towards dictatorship and the centralisation of powers within the ANC and government presidencies were not borne out by reality. "Unless properly rebutted, these statements may cause confusion and uncertainty among the membership of the alliance and among the broader public," he warned. According to him, the ANC would seek a meeting with its alliance partners, the South African Communist Party and the Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu), to clarify these statements. "It will do so better to understand the views of these alliance structures to clearly communicate the positions of the ANC and ultimately to strengthen the alliance as a unified and coherent force capable of leading the process of national-democratic transformation." Motlanthe stressed the fact that the ANC was "not divided. There is no such division at all," he said.

He was speaking after a ANC national executive committee (NEC) meeting, which rejected as "without foundation" perceived notions of a division among senior ANC leaders. He said its deputy president, Jacob Zuma, attended the meeting but recused himself when the aftermath of his rape trial was discussed. Reasons behind discussing the rape trial during the meeting were because of certain "utterances" Zuma made during the trial and whether it "dented the image of the ANC," Motlanthe explained. He also stressed that in the ANC there was no provision for succession. “It's a foreign concept to the ANC. Succession happens in dynasties. We elect national leadership," Motlanthe stressed. (The Mail & Guardian, Johannesburg / Business day, Johannesburg, Sapa)

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