Mzansi Afrika

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Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Alliance Summit

Karima Brown writing in The Star has a good break down of this week-end's Tripartite Alliance Summit. The ANC have been putting off holding an Alliance summit for about three years now I think - could it be they want to make sure things go their way in the upcoming local government elections?

"The ANC needs an emphatic victory at the polls, especially in places like KwaZulu Natal, where tensions between the ANC and the Inkatha Freedom Party are running high in the aftermath of the IFP's loss of power at a provincial level. Cynics also argue that now that Cosatu and the SACP are firmly behind the ruling party's election machine, the ANC can afford to pay lip service to the demands of its allies".

Idasa has a very nice analysis on the cyclical nature of tripartite politics:

"In the run-up to elections, when the ANC is most reliant on COSATU for ‘delivering the vote’, relations between the ANC and COSATU improve. A confluence of opportunities presents itself to those on the left of the alliance to lobby within the alliance in the one and a half year period that spans the General and Local Government elections. In the aftermath of General
Elections both COSATU and the SACP can claim internal, alliance ‘victories’ as a consequence of the their structures having successfully mobilised voters in support of the ANC.

Such claims serve to both bolster internal morale of the SACP and COSATU, and to remind the senior partner of the extent to which the alliance partners successfully serve the movement. Concurrently space is offered to COSATU and the SACP to be more assertive in lobbying their policy positions because there is an inbuilt guarantee of a more ‘sympathetic backlash’ from the ANC who will again rely substantively on their structures to mobilise constituencies in the run-up to the Local Government elections.

This space closes in the aftermath of the Local Government elections and the ANC, as the senior represented component of the alliance, and the occupiers of the executive, operate with the knowledge that years can pass before fences need to be mended in order to contest the next election. The proximity of the "ultra-leftist" attacks to the ANC’s Stellenbosch National Conference is no coincidence as the broad left and right components of the party jostled for ascendancy within party structures.

It is in this context that the apparent ascendancy of the Alliance’s left should currently be understood: COSATU and the SACP have, since the 2004 elections, used the space afforded to them to articulate their grievances and lobby for their policy positions. The ANC can not summarily reject their issues in the shadow of an impending election. Equally, we can expect these dynamics to change in the course of next year, and in the run-up to the crucial 2007 National Congress, which will, in part, plot a course of continuum or change beyond Mbeki’s tenure as President".


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