ANC breaking apart over Zuma trial.
Africa: Mbeki may have overplayed his hand in getting rid of Zuma as it ticked off his supporters and is threatening the party future as people are made about jobs and lack of service. ANC and especially Mbeki have been a disappointment since taking office. The lack of leadership not only in South Africa, but as a sign to the rest of the continent
|JOHANNESBURG, Oct 17 (Reuters) - South Africa's ruling ANC is fighting to win back grassroots members in revolt over issues from a lack of jobs and crumbling municipal services to the graft trial of popular sacked Deputy President Jacob Zuma. New hotlines at the party's Johannesburg headquarters have been taking calls from members across the country. And on Sunday President Thabo Mbeki took the lead, delighting rural audiences in the Vaal district with a speech denouncing corrupt local officials. But some analysts say it may be too late for Mbeki and his allies to unify the party, not least because the initiative is controlled by the central leadership seen to be detached. "If people are angry because they can't have their way at the branch or regional level and you ask them to phone Johannesburg, I don't see that as making much of a difference," said analyst Keith Gottschalk of the University of the Western Cape. The wave of popular support for Zuma, who was sacked in June and then charged with corruption, has stung the African National Congress (ANC), polarising the 90-year-old movement and exacerbating discontent in the ranks. It is almost impossible to believe it is the same party that launched Nelson Mandela to power in 1994 as South Africa's first black president and cruised to a two-thirds majority in parliament in the last general elections just over a year ago. Popular anger in ANC strongholds over a jobless rate of over 26 percent has spilled into the streets. Township residents protesting poor municipal services have ripped water pipes while commuters angry at delayed trains have set carriages ablaze. ....Local media reported on Monday that the now retired and increasingly frail Mandela was following with concern the damaging rift in his beloved party. "We are heading for a major problem, particularly if he is found guilty," Saunders said. "Even if he is found innocent his members would say... we were right all along in supporting him." Gottschalk says Mbeki made a grave mistake by dismissing Zuma instead of deploying him to some diplomatic mission abroad. "If Zuma was kept in Kinshasa or Bujumbura to do all the negotiation in the Great Lakes, he wouldn't be able to address his supporters in (his stronghold) KwaZulu-Natal Province," he said. "That's the first major flaw I saw, for all the claims that Mbeki has got Machievellian skills of manipulation." He said the ANC's drive to appease disenchanted members was unlikely to work because the Zuma saga had become a trigger for those who resented Mbeki's perceived managerial rather than consultative style on many other previous issues. "This has been like a last straw, so they have come in with complaints against Mbeki's perceived autocratic style rather than perceived merits of Zuma's case," Gottschalk said.|