Thursday, April 13, 2006

An ANC more ordinary

"Almost a century old now, the [African National Congress] has for most of its life been a revolutionary liberation movement fighting a quasi-fascist regime in the midst of the cold war. Many of its exiled leaders, including Mr Mbeki, went to school or university in Britain or America, but also trained in the Soviet Union to win their armed struggle.

The ANC still has a top-down, authoritarian structure where loyalty to the political cause is prized above almost everything else, including competence.

...There is growing resentment of the way the party imposes its politics from the centre, often by forcing candidates for municipal or provincial elections on its local branches. In last month's local elections, hundreds of local ANC members protested by standing as independent candidates, and much of the rioting was about the government's redrawing of provincial boundaries with little or no consultation.

But the greatest weakness of the ANC's top-down system is that the party is inclined to dismiss ideas from outside its own bureaucracy".
From Richard Cockett's survey of South Africa for The Economist (6 April)

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