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Vol 39 No 5

Published 6th March 1998

South Africa

Mbeki's new machine

The ANC's new leader sees problems ahead unless discipline can be restored to the party and grassroots enthusiasm revived

Overwhelmingly successful at the polls and certain to win next year’s national elections, and most of the provincial ones too, the African National Congress, however, has major problems. South Africans are getting bored with it; its grassroots membership is dwindling. More worrying for its leaders, a confidential survey given them last December predicts massive abstentions in next year’s general elections which have to be held between April and July. Some voters are clearly disenchanted by the slow pace of change and the equally slow delivery of houses, schools and medicare (although there have been impressive advances in provision of water, electricity and telephones). Meanwhile the keenest activists have moved up into political and administrative jobs, and the party is run by inexperienced hands. President Nelson Mandela concedes that careerism, opportunism, maladministration and corruption are rife.

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