Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Mandela's Party Loses Its Shine Fast Scandal, Vigilantes, and Economic Jitters Tarnish Image of the African National Congress

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Mandela's Party Loses Its Shine Fast Scandal, Vigilantes, and Economic Jitters Tarnish Image of the African National Congress

Article excerpt

It's been a bad couple of weeks for President Nelson Mandela. A collapsing currency, Islamic vigilantes running wild, and accusations of corruption by a senior member have damaged South Africa's ruling African National Congress (ANC).

Analysts say the party is under pressure now from various flanks as never before in its two years of running the country's first multiracial government.

There are the worries that a weak currency (the rand), which has depreciated by more than 25 percent against the American dollar since mid-February, is undermining foreign confidence in the economy and creating pressures for South Africans.

On the political side, a row with a senior ANC figure, Bantu Holomisa, is putting the government's credibility and image of accountability at stake. The former deputy environmental affairs and tourism minister, who lost his job because of his criticisms of the ANC leadership, faces a party disciplinary hearing.

He has been accused of bringing the ANC into disrepute through his testimony to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, which was set up to excavate apartheid-era human rights abuses. Mr. Holomisa had alleged that Public Enterprises Minister Stella Sigcau accepted part of a bribe from casino magnate Sol Kerzner before the ANC came to power.

ANC Deputy Secretary General Cheryl Carolus later branded Holomisa a liar for claiming that Mr. Kerzner, who has faced corruption charges for several years but has not gone to trial, had contributed 2 million rand (now $437,600) to the party's 1994 election campaign.

Mr. Mandela last week confirmed the donation had been made to the ANC and that it did nothing wrong by accepting Kerzner's money as the latter had not been convicted of any crime. But by saying that he, and he alone, knew about the contribution has raised questions by critics over what kind of party would allow its leader not to share such important information with other officials.

However, Mandela loyalists say no party anywhere in the world would accept such breaking of ranks as exhibited by Holomisa.

"Holomisa was completely out of line," said one ANC government official. …

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