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Unity Within South Africa’s ANC May Be Unraveling

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Unity of the tripartite alliance that forms the African National Congress was left hanging on a knife’s edge following ANC president Thabo Mbeki’s speech blasting ultra-leftist elements in the ruling party and branding them as the “enemies within.”

He warned the ANC would “respond in adequate measure to those who treat us as their enemy.” The three parts of the alliance are the ANC, the South African Communist Party (SACP) and the Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu).
Cosatu spokesman Vukani Mde responded to Mbeki by saying it “will not be intimidated” and that its national strike will go ahead this week.
Cosatu, with 1.8 million members, plans to lead a two-day strike this week to protest privatization and other economic management programs that they say hurt millions of poor people the government should protect.
But Mbeki, opening the ANC’s policy conference in Kempton Park, Johannesburg, last week appeared focused on instilling discipline within the party ahead of a key ANC congress in December.
“There is no provision in the constitution of the ANC that says that we must allow for anarchy within our ranks,” Mbeki told the national policy meeting of the ANC in Johannesburg.
He likened the activities of the ANC’s alliance partners to those of the right wing, asserting that both the “right wing and the ultra-left have defined the ANC as their common enemy.”
Clearly incensed by the forthcoming strike and his recent snubbing by Cosatu, Mbeki also questioned the continued “existence today of our ally, the South African Communist Party.”
Mbeki, who did not name Cosatu directly but made references to those who claim to represent the workers, said, “these left sectarian factions accuse our movement of having abandoned the working people and implementing neo-liberal policies”.
Cosatu spokesperson Vukani Mde said it was unfortunate Mbeki was suggesting Cosatu and the SACP had declared the ANC as their enemy. “We have never declared the ANC as the enemy. It is Mbeki who has put that label on Cosatu,” Mde said.
The SACP leadership, on the other hand, expressed concern about the speech but chose not to respond.

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