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Vol 39 No 8

Published 17th April 1998

South Africa

New sparring partners

Political alliances - with and against the dominant ANC - are reshaping the landscape ahead of next year's elections

Already the parties are taking off their gloves ahead of the general elections scheduled for mid-1999. It's likely to be a bruising contest. Racial abuse is back in political fashion, having edged out much of the reconciliation rhetoric of the 1994 Uhuru election. In national terms, the opposition parties are shadow boxing; they can do little to dent the African National Congress' political dominance. But there are a number of important side-issues to play for. Will Chief Mangosuthu Buthelezi's Inkatha Freedom Party ally itself with the ANC in return for a promised deputy presidency? If so, will Inkatha militants accept the probable loss of control of the kwaZulu-Natal provincial government? Will Tony Leon's abrasive leadership of the Democratic Party succeed in politically annihilating the beleaguered National Party? Will Bantu Holomisa's United Democratic Movement provide the basis for a radical black challenge to the dominant ANC?

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