How the ANC Lost Its Way

The legendary liberation movement celebrates its centenary, but the party of Mandela has done far too little for a still divided South Africa

  • Share
  • Read Later
Benedicte Kurzen for TIME

The ANC was born in the church hall to the right. Now the party is spending millions to renovate its history.

(5 of 5)

As the Arab Spring showed, ruling parties that fail to distinguish their interests from those of the nation may also not spot their approaching fall. And the signs of the ANC's decline are there. The party is fragmented. Its support peaked at 69% at elections in 2004 and fell to 61% at local elections in 2011. And in December it lost three previously safe seats in local by-elections. Meanwhile, the DA is growing. Its support rose from 1.7% in a general election in 1996 to 16.7% in 2009, when it also took Western Cape province, and to 23.8% in 2011. Zille says her ambition is to take two more provinces in the next general election in 2014 and the government in 2019. Like any other politician, she wants power. But she insists that removing the ANC is essential if South Africa is to finally enjoy genuine democracy. "Loyalty is a great trait, but if you are to hold political leaders to account, you can't be loyal to a political party," she says.

In a previous life, Zille was an antiapartheid journalist. Her ultimate goal, she says, is to make good on Tutu's vision of a Technicolor nation. But in South Africa's black-and-white present, Zille is only too aware that she has a "melanin deficit." Hence moves by the DA to recruit to its leadership a black-struggle legend of its own: Mamphela Ramphele, a former World Bank managing director and long-standing ANC critic. If the name is unfamiliar, that's because Ramphele never married her partner: Steve Biko.

  1. 1
  2. 2
  3. 3
  4. 4
  5. 5
  6. Next Page