Zuma calls for end to ANC infighting

South African President Jacob Zuma greets supporters at a rally of his ruling African National Congress in Soweto on Sunday. (Reuters)
Updated 09 January 2017

Zuma calls for end to ANC infighting

JOHANNESBURG: South Africa’s ruling African National Congress (ANC) needs to end infighting and focus on winning back public support, President Jacob Zuma said on Sunday as he tries to unite an increasingly
divided party.
Zuma denounced corruption within the ruling ANC party and admitted that mistakes had cost the party at the ballot box after a year of damaging scandals.
Zuma is set to step down as leader of the African National Congress in December, before he completes the maximum two terms in office as national president in 2019.
He and other senior ANC figures have been embroiled in a series of graft allegations, as South Africa has struggled with a slowing economy, high unemployment and regular violent protests.
In August, the ANC — which came to power in 1994 under Nelson Mandela after the end of apartheid — recorded its worst-ever election results at local polls.
“The ANC has heard the message that the people delivered in August. We accept that we have made mistakes,” Zuma, 74, said in a speech marking the ANC’s 105th anniversary.
“When leaders and members of the ANC are corrupt and steal they are betraying the values of the ANC, the people and our country. We will not allow this.”
Among Zuma’s possible successors are his ex-wife, African Union chief Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa and ANC treasurer-general Zweli Mkhize.
On Saturday, the ANC’s influential women’s league pledged its support for Dlamini-Zuma.
“The ANC will elect a new national leadership toward the end of the year,” Zuma said.
“Too often, comrades fight for leadership positions as they see leadership as the route to material and personal gain.”
As attacks on his presidency grew last year, Zuma survived an attempt by ANC rivals to oust him in November, shrugging off criticism of his conduct by the official anti-graft watchdog and the Constitutional Court.
The watchdog probe uncovered evidence of possible criminal activity in his relationship with the Guptas, a business family accused of wielding undue political influence.
Zuma, who took power in 2009, retains strong loyalty among many rank-and-file ANC party members, as well as its lawmakers.
He struck a humble note at the ANC celebrations in a sports stadium in Soweto, a hotbed of the struggle that ended white-majority rule more than 20 years ago.
“The people have told us that we are too busy fighting each other and we do not pay sufficient attention to their needs,” he said.
“The ANC must unite so that we are able to unite the people against our common enemies — unemployment, poverty and inequality.”
Zuma gave a shortened version of his published speech as heavy rain lashed the venue.
Ramaphosa, who was once touted as a successor to Nelson Mandela, would be the first choice for many investors because his background in commerce suggests he will support more pro-business policies than many in the ANC.
He will, however, face criticism from opponents for his role at platinum producer Lonmin where he was a director and shareholder when violence led to police shooting dead 34 striking miners in 2012. An investigation has cleared him of wrongdoing.
The Women’s League has a block of votes at the party conference and are a critical lobbying group for the ANC, particularly in galvanizing support among female voters.
“After careful consideration and opening our eyes as wide as possible, Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma is the only suitable candidate,” the Women’s League said in a statement.
“Her legacy and influence is known and well documented throughout the history pages of the republic and beyond.”
Many South Africans believe it is time the ANC had a female leader, a rarity on a continent with strong patriarchal heritage.
Zuma has previously said that South Afric a is ready for a female president.


Afghan poll body misses announcing crucial presidential initial vote

Updated 1 min 20 sec ago

Afghan poll body misses announcing crucial presidential initial vote

  • The chief of the country’s Independent Election Commission (IEC), blamed technical reasons, particularly slowness in entering data on to the server, for missing the timetable
  • She said the results would be announced “as soon as possible,” while earlier in the day two IEC members said privately that the delay would take up to a week

KABUL: Afghanistan’s election commission conceded its failure to release initial presidential poll results set for Saturday and gave no new deadline for the vote which was marred by Taliban attacks and irregularities.
The presidential poll on Sept. 28 saw the lowest turnout of any elections in Afghanistan since the Taliban’s ousting.
Hawa Alam Nuristani, the chief of the country’s Independent Election Commission (IEC), blamed technical reasons, particularly slowness in entering data on to the server, for missing the timetable.
“Regrettably, the commission due to technical issues and for the sake of transparency could not announce the presidential election initial poll results,” she said in a brief announcement.
Without naming any camp, Nuristani also said: “A number of observers of election sides (camps) illegally are disrupting the process of elections.” She did not elaborate.
Nuristani said the results would be announced “as soon as possible,” while earlier in the day two IEC members said privately that the delay would take up to a week.
The delay is another blow for the vote that has been twice delayed to due to the government’s mismanagement and meetings between the US and the Taliban, which eventually collapsed last month after President Donald Trump declared the talks “dead.”
It further adds to political instability in Afghanistan, which has seen decades of conflict and foreign intervention and faced ethnic divides in recent years.
Both front-runners, President Ashraf Ghani and the country’s chief executive, Dr. Abdullah Abdullah, have said that they expect to win.
The pair have been sharing power in Afghanistan as part of a US-brokered deal following the fraudulent polls of 2014.
The IEC has invalidated more than 500,000 votes because they were not conducted through biometric devices, bought for the vote from overseas to minimize the level of cheating in last month’s polls.
Officials of the commission said that nearly 1.8 million votes were considered clean and it was not clear what sort of impact the turnout would have on the legitimacy of the polls and the future government, whose main task will be to resume stalled peace talks with the Taliban.
They said that the slowness of data entry on to the server was one of the technical reasons for the delay in releasing initial poll results.
Yousuf Rashid, a senior official from an election watchdog group, described the delay as a “weakness of mismanagement,” while several lawmakers chided IEC for poor performance.
Abdul Satar Saadat, a former senior leader of an electoral body, told Arab News: “The delay showed IEC’s focus was on transparency” and that should be regarded as a sign that it took the issue of discarding fraudulent votes seriously.