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S.Africa's ANC accused of living in past after centenary

By AFP

BLOEMFONTEIN, South Africa (AFP) - South African media criticised the ANC on Monday for celebrating its past at the expense of the present as the last merrymakers from the party's 100th anniversary celebrations headed home.

The African National Congress threw itself a lavish birthday party in the central city of Bloemfontein at the weekend to celebrate its journey from anti-apartheid movement to ruling party, but was attacked for failing to focus on ongoing problems like poverty, inequality and unemployment.

"The struggle for liberation is over," Business Day said in an editorial.

"The past does not blind an increasingly angry and disillusioned electorate anymore to the reality that it is the ANC which is failing to lift the majority out of poverty, that the ANC is riven with division among power-hungry and money-grabbing elites."

The celebrations, which included a golf outing and a champagne toast, also provided occasion for criticism of the corruption that has plagued the party in recent years.

"A great number of contemporary problems that are threatening to upset the goals of the liberation struggle are being perpetrated by ANC leaders," said the Sowetan.

"Some were celebrating for having been afforded an opportunity by the ANC to take over from where the (apartheid sponsor) National Party had left off: loot public resources in a manner that deprives black people."

"Factionalism, greed and arrogance are tearing the organisation apart," said The Times.

"Gone are the days when people joined the party because it represented a noble cause. Today's members are concerned about state tenders and political influence."

President Jacob Zuma came in for especially harsh criticism after delivering a keynote address Sunday that was long on the history of the continent's oldest liberation movement but vague on South Africa's most pressing issues.

"Mr Zuma, in a bland address that surely must have been deliberate, not only said nothing new; he barely said anything at all in the hour-and-a-half that he was at the podium," said Business Day.

"The stadium emptied as he spoke. It was an awful, dreary speech."

The address was "uninspiring and short on vision," The Star said on its front page.

A thunderstorm that broke out shortly after Zuma's speech drove ANC supporters from the stadium before the grand finale, a song and dance show called "100 Years in 100 Minutes" that eventually went ahead in a nearly empty stadium.

Buses that had brought thousands of supporters to the celebrations had left by early evening.

ANC spokesman Keith Khoza told AFP "well over 100,000 people" had attended the party.

"We certainly are happy except that the rain disrupted the centrepiece of the entertainment programme," he said.

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