South Africa’s ruling ANC has called for an end to corruption and division within the party as it battles to reverse declining popularity, according to a policy paper published Sunday.
The ANC recorded its worst-ever results in local polls last August and will choose a new leader at the end of this year, ahead of the 2019 general election when President Jacob Zuma must stand down.
“The document recognises that the ANC is increasingly losing trust of the people as illustrated by the declining electoral performance and intense public criticism,” ANC policy chief Jeff Radebe said in a speech broadcast on local television.
“The organisation must act urgently to restore its moral character to win back the trust of the people,” he said during a meeting at the ANC’s Johannesburg headquarters.
Zuma is personally facing a slew of corruption allegations and an ongoing crisis over the payment of welfare benefits that has further tarnished the ANC’s reputation.
It has also been engulfed by infighting at the highest level of government. Friction has soared in recent months between Zuma, who is seeking increased expenditure to fund a “radical economic transformation”, and Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan who is taking a stand against graft and uncontrolled spending.
More than 20 years after the end of apartheid, about 35 percent of the labour force is unemployed or has given up looking for work, and South Africa remains beset by inequality.
“The ANC faces declining fortunes. Internal squabbles, money politics, corruption and poor performance in government all conspire to undermine its legitimacy in the eyes of the broader public,” warned one of the policy papers.
They also called for the presidency to be strengthened as the “strategic centre of power in the state”.
The discussion documents unveiled on Sunday will form the basis of debates at the party’s national conference which will kick off on June 30.