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S.Africa’s Zuma admits ruling ANC seen as corrupt, losing support

Published on 09/10/2015

South Africa's President Jacob Zuma admitted Friday that the ruling ANC party of late liberation icon Nelson Mandela is perceived as corrupt and is losing support.

The African National Congress swept to power under Mandela at the end of apartheid 21 years ago, but faces growing discontent over high unemployment, a faltering economy and government corruption.

“The ANC needs to work harder to reverse the incorrect public perception that the ANC and its government are soft on corruption and that the ANC is a corrupt organisation,” Zuma told a major party policy planning meeting.

He noted that party membership had plummeted by about a quarter in the past three years, from more than a million to about 770,000.

Zuma also acknowledged a fall in voter support — from 66 percent at the 2009 elections to 62 percent in 2014.

“We have identified certain negative tendencies which undermine our credibility, that make … voters feel unhappy,” he said.

“These tendencies create a public perception that the ANC has become a self-serving organisation or one that at times deviates from its core values.”

Analysts say Zuma himself is to blame for at least some of the party’s dwindling support, amid a scandal over the spending of $23 million dollars of taxpayers’ money on upgrades to his private rural residence.

Zuma, who ousted former president Thabo Mbeki in a bitter contest for the party leadership in 2007, lamented the existence of factions which he called a “serious cancer” driven by greed and hunger for power.

“One of the complaints raised by our people is the impression of lack of discipline within the organisation and that people do as they please and undermine the authority of the ANC with impunity,” said Zuma.

The three-day meeting is also due to address the struggling economy in Africa’s most developed country, but analysts believe little will come out of the talks in terms of economic strategy.

The meeting will be more concerned about how Zuma “continues to exert a leadership role with a view to the looming succession story in the ANC,” said independent analyst Daniel Silke.

The party is due to choose a new leader in 2017, with the battle seen as likely to be between deputy president Cyril Ramaphosa and Zuma’s ex-wife and current African Union Commission chairwoman Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma.