The African National Congress Turns 100
South Africa's ruling party has much to fete and more to consider, says Charlayne Hunter-Gault.
He was acquitted of the charges, but the shower image lingers. The idea that Malema is backed by forces that want to remove Zuma as they once removed Mbeki is gaining traction in public discourse.
And although Malema has been suspended from the ANC for other actions that the organization says brought it into disrepute, such as taking positions at odds with the mother body -- promoting nationalization of the banks and mines, supporting Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe and singing an outlawed struggle song, Kill the Boer -- he still commands attention and a following.
Two other major issues stirring controversy are the so-called secrecy bill, about which I have written on The Root before -- which would effectively put a lid on any information the government deems a threat to national security and carries heavy jail sentences for anyone revealing such state secrets or being in possession thereof, and failing to turn them over to the proper authorities.
Another major contentious issue involves recent perceived attacks on the South African Constitution, hailed up to now as one of the most liberal in the world. But Ngoako Ramathlodi, a top ANC official and deputy minister of correctional services, recently argued that the constitution achieved "the objective of protecting white economic interests." He further asserted that "the black majority enjoys empty political power while forces against change reign supreme in the economy, judiciary, public opinion and civil society." While he was by no means speaking for the ANC, that a senior member of the organization would so characterize the constitution is seen by many as cause for worry.
And so, back to the celebration of the ANC's 100th anniversary. Whatever issues now confront it, and however they get resolved, on Jan. 8, even critics say, a celebration is indeed appropriate because, as one disaffected ANC member told me, "The ANC and its history belong to us, the people of South Africa."
Charlayne Hunter-Gault is a Johannesburg-based writer and journalist and frequent contributor to The Root.