Wednesday, March 12, 2014

South Africa: Zuma allies dominate new ANC electoral list

South Africa's ruling African National Congress on Tuesday unveiled its list of candidates for upcoming elections, with President Jacob Zuma loyalists dominating and some prominent critics taking a bow.The list of 200 parliamentary hopefuls -- which doubles as a tip sheet for who will feature in the next government -- was released ahead of the May 7 general election.

The vote promises to be the toughest electoral challenge yet for a party that has won each election since the end of Apartheid in 1994 by a landslide.Despite deep voter anger with persistent corruption and inequality, supporters of the embattled president won out.Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe, who challenged Zuma at a recent party conference, is not on the list and has announced his retirement from front line politics.Neither is Trevor Manuel, a one-time finance minister liked by foreign investors, who has been critical of the government's failure to implement economic reforms in the face of rampant unemployment.The top of the list is instead dominated by Zuma's allies from his native KwaZulu-Natal province, and those who occupy key positions in the security sector.The document will offer ammunition to the ANC's critics who claim the party is not doing enough to tackle corruption or rooting out poorly performing ministers.

The list includes former communications minister Dina Pule, who was dropped from the cabinet after being found guilty of lying to parliament about her boyfriend's state tenders.State Security Minister Siyabonga Cwele, Zuma's close confidant whose wife was convicted of drug running, is also included.So too is former provincial minister Humphrey Mmemezi who resigned in 2012 after he bought a painting using a government credit card by masking it as a McDonald's restaurant purchase, the equivalent of around 425 Big Macs.

'Not serious'

The main opposition the Democratic Alliance said the ANC's list showed "once and for all - that it is not serious about fighting corruption".It is likely most of the candidates on the list will get positions in government or the legislature even if the 102-year-old party is expected to win this year's vote with a reduced margin.Generally cabinet ministers have to be lawmakers first before their appointment, although the law allows the president to pick a few non-parliamentarians.

"An ANC list is never an expression of competence or anything like that, it's always a political decision," said Mari Harris, the head of Ipsos South Africa.Among those political calculations appears to be an effort to shore up the ANC's support on the left and in the trade union movement -- which has become fractured over its backing for Zuma's government.

Rich vein

Senzeni Zokwana, the leader of the National Union of Mineworkers, appears alongside many members of the Communist Party, including its leader Blade Nzimande at number eight.Although the ANC commands a vast electoral majority, it rules in a so-called tripartite coalition with the South African Communist Party (SACP) and trade union federation COSATU.Memberships of the SACP, COSATU and the ANC often overlap and the two junior partners provide a rich vein of votes and grassroots organisation for the ruling party.

But those calling for more liberal reforms will also take hope from the inclusion of former central bank governor Tito Mboweni, raising speculation that he might replace Pravin Gordhan as finance minister. Cyril Ramaphosa, the former trade unionist who took part in the negotiations that saw the end of apartheid and then went on to become a top businessman, is Zuma's number two on the list.

Source: Africa Review

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