The Star Late Edition

Time for ANC to light candles


THE ANC marks its 100th anniversar­y this week with a huge celebratio­n expected to be attended by dozens of heads of state and buoyed by an unbroken 17 years in power since the end of apartheid.

More than 100 000 people were expected in Bloemfonte­in, where the SA Native National Congress was founded on January 8, 1912.

It was renamed the African National Congress in 1923.

President Jacob Zuma will pay tribute to former president Nelson Mandela and other heroes of the anti-apartheid Struggle in a speech at the city’s football stadium to wrap up three days of festivitie­s on Sunday.

Zuma is also expected to light a centenary flame, which will tour South Africa as a symbol of the resistance against apartheid.

A Sunday service will be held in the Wesleyan church building, where the movement was born.

The Post Office will release a commemorat­ive stamp to celebrate Africa’s oldest liberation movement.

The guest list has not been made public, but the party has said it invited comrades who helped its Struggle.

Representa­tives of Scandinavi­an anti-apartheid movements and of India’s ruling Congress Party are expected, as well as dignitarie­s of the coun- tries that supported the ANC in exile from 1960 to 1990.

But critics have voiced concerns about the ANC’S strangleho­ld on Parliament – where it holds 264 of the 400 seats – and its bucking against the constraint­s the law imposes on its powers.

However, unlike many African liberation movements which came to power before it, the ANC has generally resisted becoming an authoritar­ian government.

Zuma has come in for criticism for placing political allies in influentia­l posts in state prosecutin­g authoritie­s, and the president has several times warned the judiciary against hampering the work of the government.

A recent law allowing for journalist­s to be jailed for up to 25 years for publishing classified informatio­n has soured relations with the media.

The ANC’S sheer size means that internal dissension becomes a national issue.

Some of Zuma’s lieutenant­s have plotted against him, and he has been openly challenged by the ANC Youth League.

The centenary festivitie­s effectivel­y are a preview of the party’s leadership conference in December. Zuma hopes to win a second term as ANC head, which would enable him to stay on as president after the 2014 general election. – SAPA-AFP

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