Peter Hain Issues Warning To South Africa’s ANC Party: ‘Renew or Face Losing Office’

South Africa’s ANC must renew itself from “top to bottom” or it will be ousted from power, former Welsh Secretary and anti-apartheid activist Peter Hain has warned.

The South African-raised Neath MP who first came to prominence as a lead campaigner against apartheid-era cricket and rugby tours has returned with a film crew to a country in which Nelson Mandela’s party is now dogged with accusations of cronyism and corruption.

The impetus for the BBC film, which will be shown next week on April 24, was a massacre last August in which 34 miners were shot dead. Police and miners clashed during protests outside a mine in Marikana, just outside Johannesburg.

Mr Hain said: “As somebody who represents a mining constituency I found the whole situation of the mining massacre very dramatic.”

In the hour-long documentary Mr Hain speaks to the families of some of the dead men, President Jacob Zuma, the chief executive of the mining company, and leading ANC veterans.

According to the BBC, he “uncovers a day of shocking brutality with many disturbing allegations”.

Mr Hain is emphatic the discontent rocking the country today is more than an emotional backlash in response to the euphoria which greeted the fall of the apartheid regime in 1994.

“No government ever satisfies is expectations… It’s just a law of politics,” he said.

In South Africa he found causes for deeper concern with a party which once fought for a vision of a multiracial South Africa now mired in corruption allegations.

He said: “There is a lot of criticism of the leadership at national and local level about corruption and delivery problems… There’s a lot of disagreement and grassroots disaffection.”

Despite the ANC’s electoral dominance, Mr Hain maintains that it is in danger of losing office unless it can “renew itself from top to bottom”.

He said: “What really hurts anti-apartheid activists like me and ANC members and followers is the widespread corruption there is locally and nationally and that has to be dealt with.”

Insisting that he had not interviewed people with an instinctive axe to grind against the ANC, he said: “The critics are overwhelmingly ANC members. I haven’t gone to old, sour or disaffected whites.”

Mr Hain also met with Julius Malema, the expelled former president of the ANC Youth League who made headlines with his visits to Zimbabwe and his singing of the apartheid-era song Shoot the Boer.

Mr Hain said: “He’s a powerful voice for the disaffected and the angry and a dangerous voice of populism.”

However, he is hopeful that South Africa will not follow its neighbour towards a Zimbabwe-style collapse.

He said: “South Africa is such a critical country for the whole of the continent. It still has a majestic constitution – probably the best constitution in the world.

“There are lots of things that are good about it…

“Mugabe’s tyranny has been such a terrible stain on Africa. South Africa is much better protected to resist any slide to anything that would threaten its democratic fundamentals but the ANC needs to be vigilant.”

Describing his meeting with President Zuma, he said: “On a personal level I get on with him fine. He has to renew his party.”

Mr Hain said he found the process of making the film “exhilarating”.

He said: “It as very enjoyable being on the other side of the camera, asking the questions rather than having to answer them.”

Mr Hain stepped down from the Labour shadow cabinet last May to support efforts to build a barrage across the Severn estuary which he claims could be “the biggest single source of renewable energy in Europe.”

Last month Mr Hain became a non-executive director at Amara Mining, formerly known as Cluff Gold, which has interests in Burkina Faso, Côte d’Ivoire and Sierra Leone.

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