25 August, 2011
The party that led South Africa out of apartheid had by 2010 slipped into anti-democratic practices reminiscent of the regime it fought to overthrow, says a US diplomatic cable released by WikiLeaks.
In the assessment of the Pretoria embassy cable, dated January 8 2010, the ANC was following in the footsteps of the white-minority regime in its handling of Abahlali baseMjondolo (AbM), a politically thorny protest movement by impoverished shack dwellers.
"The parallels between AbM's struggles against the ANC and the latter's fight against the apartheid regime cannot be ignored," says the cable, titled "Is the ANC as Democratic as it Claims?"
"The accounts of forced removals, violence, intimidation and leaders in hiding seem like echoes of a time supposedly gone forever."
The ANC won South Africa's first democratic elections in 1994 after decades fighting apartheid.
But the party of Nelson Mandela has lost some of its lustre under his successors, including current President Jacob Zuma - accused of presiding over growing corruption and intolerance for free speech since he came to power in 2009.
The leaked cable draws a link between the psychology of the ANC's fight against apartheid and its handling of the AbM.
"Even talk by ANC leaders of a 'third force' at work are eerily reminiscent of a paranoid apartheid era," it said.
"The AbM movement is a test of democratic governance for the ANC, as it decides what to do when its own people do not support its vision of development."