EDITORIAL: Challenging times ahead for the ANC
As South Africa’s ruling party, the African National Congress (ANC), the original anti-apartheid liberation movement, celebrates its 100th anniversary, it is fitting that we offer it our warmest congratulations on this milestone.
The ANC came to power in 1994 after a long, deadly struggle against the white minority, promising much to the majority Blacks. But after 17 years running Africa’s largest economy, many critics say it has done more to enrich its leading members and allies than to help the poor masses.
Last weekend, it held a lavish birthday bash to celebrate its 100th anniversary, with a golf tournament, banquets and concerts by the biggest stars in South African music while many people are still struggling to eke out a living.
Unfortunately, former president and anti-apartheid icon Nelson Mandela who, in a blaze of international goodwill, led South Africa into a new era of multiracial democracy, was unable to attend because of ill health.
Mandela, who was elected president of the ANC after it became legal and who was released from prison, led the country from 1994 to 1999. His departure from power was seen as an example to African leaders although, given the realities in South Africa, the movement could possibly be in power for years to come.
It is said the party faces a defining moment for the next three years but the fear is that if the ANC government keeps up its current policies, South Africa risks slipping to new depths of unemployment, debt and corruption that could increase poverty and undermine its long-term prospects.
Critics say President Jacob Zuma, an ANC veteran and freedom fighter, both before and since taking office in 2009, has been a virtual bystander when it comes to tackling the country’s deep social and economic problems.
There is no doubt the ANC has made big strides in erasing the economic and social injustices caused by decades of oppression of the black majority by a white minority under apartheid. The problem is that it may have fed its supporters exaggerated expectations.
Though we accept that the ANC is not perfect, its record so far has been commendable. We agree with the sentiments of the Democratic Alliance’s Helen Zille that the ANC “represents a history of progress, a quest for human rights and the advent of democracy after a long, arduous struggle that took over 80 years”.
She said the values espoused by the father of the new South Africa, Nelson Mandela, still resonated strongly with the people and his humane, non-racial vision of equality for all under a democratic system led the country out of the dark days of repression and put it firmly on the path to freedom.
As a footnote, we would also like to congratulate our local Wesleyan Holiness Church, who are also celebrating 100 years of worship and service to the community during this year. We offer them our prayers and our support, as always.