S.Africa's deputy president fires warning at ANC

15th July 2013, Comments 0 comments

South Africa's deputy president Kgalema Motlanthe has warned that his ruling ANC party risks losing power if it fails to remain relevant to the people, the Financial Times reported Monday.

"If it does not pay attention to the importance of being relevant to the people of South Africa then it will run the risk of losing power," Motlanthe told the paper.

His comments are unusually candid for a party that prides itself on keeping a united front.

Motlanthe -- who was interim president for just over seven months -- has said that he will not be available for public office after next year, choosing to focus on mentoring the young crop of leaders.

His comments come at a sensitive time, as the party under President Jacob's Zuma's leadership prepares for general elections due next year.

The African National Congress (ANC) has swept all post-apartheid polls and is expected to win again.

But nearly two decades into South Africa's democracy, the party that led the fight against apartheid has been blamed for failing to sufficiently improve the lives of ordinary South Africans.

Zuma -- who came to power through an act of political fratricide in 2008, when he ousted then president Thabo Mbeki -- has been a lightning rod for that criticism.

He has been accused of corruption and of punishing his opponents.

Motlanthe, who opposed Zuma's leadership at the ANC conference in December, cautioned against "vested personal interests" in the ranks of the 100-year old party, saying they hamper unity.

Motlanthe's comments were published as the embattled premier of South Africa's northern Limpopo province, who had lobbied against Zuma's leadership, quit Monday ahead of his impending recall.

Cassel Mathale, who is also accused of presiding over widespread public sector corruption, said his resignation was "in line with the decision of the African National Congress to recall me."

Once a close ally of the suspended ex-leader of the ANC youth wing, Julius Malema, Mathale was part of a clique opposed to Zuma's re-election in December as party leader.

But under his leadership, several key departments, including the provincial treasury, were taken over by the central government.

Minister of Finance Pravin Gordhan said the province faced a shortfall of two billion rand (around $200 million / 154 million euros) in the 2012 financial year.

Politically connected businessmen were said to have been awarded lucrative government contracts, without following procurement procedures.

In his statement Mathale said he had "acted against all forms of corruption."


© 2013 AFP

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