ANC Faces Political Challenge in South African Power Struggle

ANC Faces Political Challenge in South African Power Struggle

JOHANNESBURG, South Africa -- A bitter power struggle within South Africa's ruling African National Congress (ANC) has not only led to the imminent formation of a splinter party. It has also completely changed the face of South African politics. In the shadows of the struggle for political supremacy, both the country's economy and its human rights record have taken a beating over the past five months.

The struggle for control of the ANC began after the election of a new National Executive Committee (NEC) during the party's national congress last December in Polokwane, in the country's northern province of Limpopo. With Jacob Zuma installed as party president, the new leadership swept the country's two-term president at the time, Thabo Mbeki, and other members of his inner circle to the sidelines of the party.

Although once allies, the two leaders have a bitter history. Mbeki sacked Zuma from his previous office of Deputy President in 2005, on allegations of corruption. The charges were initially dismissed in 2006, but were immediately re-instated after Mr. Zuma won the ANC presidency, raising suspicions of political interference. On Sept. 12, when High Court Judge Chris Nicholson inferred that Mbeki or some in his administration might have interfered in the National Prosecuting Authority's (NPA) decision to charge Zuma on corruption, he presented the NEC with an opportunity it had no qualms in seizing.

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