Despite Victory, ANC Criticized Over Failure to Meet Land Pledge
Mangaliso Kubheka, a spokesman for the LPM told South Africa’s daily Independent, ”We as the poor and landless majority have little to celebrate since we still do not have the land that was promised to us in the 1995 Freedom Charter and the 1994 Reconstruction and Development Programme.”
Kubheka’s group represents thousands of poor, black South Africans who, despite the ending of the oppressive white minority system of apartheid, still live in poverty.
Dispossessed of their homes under those laws that favored whites, black South Africans are awaiting the resolution of an ANC promise made in 1994 to reallocate part of the land appropriated by whites. The government promised at that time to return 30 percent of land by 2015. So far, less than 3 percent has been returned and the government has been accused of moving too slowly.
On Election Day, authorities arrested 50 LPM members who were demonstrating outside a voting station south of Johannesburg, according to the South African Broadcasting Corp. The demonstration was part of the group’s campaign to encourage landless people to boycott the election.
“Our concern is that we voted in 1994, we were promised land and didn’t get it,” said Kubheka. “In 1999, we voted again and were promised a better life. Now, for the third time, there’s nothing to show. So we feel there is nothing to vote for.”
In his victory speech on Friday, Mbeki, who has been heralded for helping guide South Africa through what many had feared might be an unstable shift to democracy, said the government would meet its promises to the poor.
Mbeki has been under increasing political pressure to address the land reform issue and other social problems. South Africa has an unemployment rate of about 40 percent and has the highest number of HIV/AIDS cases in the world.
“It’s quite clear that the ANC has got the overwhelming support and confidence of the people of South Africa,” Mbeki said. “It poses a challenge to the ANC not to disappoint the expectations.”
“The ANC has a duty, absolutely, to do all of the things it has said it will do,” he added.
With 95 percent of the ballots counted Friday, Mbeki, whose campaign slogan read “a better life for all,” won about 69 percent of the vote. He faced the biggest challenge from the Inkatha Freedom Party, the Zulu-dominated party popular in the northern KwaZulu-Natal province.