A hundred years in the life of any individual or organization is a mile stone worth all the celebrations .It could not be any different when it came to the historic African National Congress-ANC the ruling party in South Africa. The ANC is the stuff of legends, with figures like Walter Sisulu, Giovan Mbeki, Chief Albert Luthuli and the venerable Nelson Mandela amongst others who will always occupy a choiced place in any recitation of African history. With two Nobel Peace Laureates in Chief Luthuli and Nelson Mandela, with the feat of leading with relentless pressure and steadfastness that charge that ultimately led to the demise of the inhumane apartheid system and the emergence of black rule in South Africa, the ANC at 100 deserves the best of salutes.
Its historic mission of defeating apartheid now achieved, the ANC is now saddled with an even bigger challenge: catering for the welfare not the entire South Africa-Blacks, Whites, Indians, Afrikaners etc. Since 1992, the party has been the ruling party in South Africa. Been in the opposition is one thing, putting the vision you stood for into tangible results once you get to power is quite another thing. As to how well the ANC has fared since it got to power, is a question of individual judgement and assessment but the reality is that there is palpable discontent and the most disappointed seem to be the Blacks for whose cause the ANC was formed in the first place.
Although apartheid is now ever and the democracy has made black majority rule possible, the plight of black folks still leaves much to be desired. Unemployment is still highest amongst black folks in South Africa, and the poverty still alarmingly high amongst the black folks. Unemployment and poverty are good breeders of crime. This combination amongst others is what could account for the senseless killing of an icon in the apartheid struggle like Lucky Dube. Certainly a lot has changed for the Black Africans but the pace is slow and there is growing disgruntlement that the ANC led government is not doing enough to alleviate their plight.
Fighting poverty is a challenge the ANC has to work on with more seriousness and with more urgency. A few years back South Africans took out their anger on fellow Africans living there. Some lost their lives, some had property destroyed and many foreign nationals were forced to flee South Africa. The xenophobia from South Africans left Africans stunned. Virtually the entire continent worked in great solidarity with South Africa to dismantle apartheid and was the xenophobia the best appreciation South Africans could show?
With its economic might, many in the continent look up to the ANC led South African government for leadership in the continent. South Africa may have been instrumental in the creation of projects like the New Partnership for African Development-NEPAD. This blue print for the transformation of the continent is still to bear tangible fruits for all to see. Leadership in the continent has been sorely missing in the continent especially in crisis from Tunisia, to Egypt, Ivory Coast and most recently Libya. The influence of South Africa has not been felt at all.
A potential candidate for a permanent seat at the United Nations Security Council should Africa have one, the influence of South Africa has been on the wane. A most recent sign is the failure of its candidate to be picked as the Chairman of the African Union. One of the reasons whispered here and there about the failure of Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma was the desire to curb the growing influence of South Africa. Already a major player in the Union, South Africa did not need to seek the Chairmanship. And what about this talk that surface not long ago about South Africa seeking a single currency for the so call BRIC countries comprising Brazil, Russia, India and China? Where does this leave Africa? Why not militate more for a single African currency?
Democracy is one area where the ANC has fared well. The resignation of President Thabo Mbeki before the end of his term was a pace setter in the continent. Strive is no stranger to the politics of the ANC and cadres like the ANC Youth League Chairman Julius Malema have been increasingly vocal of their criticism of the party leadership. There have been disgruntled comrades who have been forced to part ways and there is no doubt there certainly will be more .The ANC should not became a too big to fail party. As it starts another century, the challenges have changed. The defeat of apartheid which was the rallying call has been achieved. Meeting the needs and aspirations of citizens in the entire polity is the biggest challenge especially the black folks who are still hanging on the fringes of poverty. It is a challenge that needs to be met for the ANC to enjoy electoral successes and remain in power. There will come a time when people will not support the party for the sake of it but based on positive transformation of the country. This is even more when historic figures continue to fade into the back ground. The generational shift comes along with greater potential for conflicting ambitions and agendas and the ANC will need to step up its game to remain master of the political scene in South Africa.
Like the recent African Nations Cup suggests, even countries hitherto considered as small are stepping up. A tournament without continental soccer giants like Nigeria, Cameroon and Egypt was unthinkable. South Africa itself missed out at the rendez vous. This is the spirit that will help move the continent forward. One of healthy competition, one where every country strives to be the best. PAV brings you volume 45 with Guest Columnist Mamadou Koulibaly doing a series of brilliant write ups. A former speaker of the Ivory Coast Parliament, Prof Koulibaly has been a staunch critic of French foreign policy in Africa and is today one of the most vocal opposition voices in Africa. With her country hosting the Nations cup for the first time, Equatorial Guinea Ambassador to the USA Purificacion Angue Ondo sounds off to the tremendous progress that is taking place. Equatorial Guinea is on the right path to sustainable development she affirms. Samuel Tsonga Stone takes a look at the tumultuous year that 2011 was in Uganda. Africa is indeed high on the foreign policy priorities of the Obama Administration says Bruce Wharton a State Department Official in an interview. Is President Jonathan out of Goodluck in Nigeria? The issue takes a lot at disturbing developments in Nigeria.