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Thursday, 11 January, 2001, 13:19 GMT
ANC begins soul-searching
Nelson Mandela (left), with South African President Thabo Mbeki
The ANC will assess its performance under Mbeki
By Greg Barrow in Johannesburg

Senior members of the governing African National Congress (ANC) have begun a four-day strategy meeting in South Africa.

The gathering, or lekgotla, as it is known, is expected to give a frank assessment of the ANC's performance since President Thabo Mbeki was elected in June 1999.

A spokesman for the ANC said members would be examining the party's performance as an agent of change and social transformation in South Africa.

Winnie Mandela
Winnie Mandela could come in for some criticism
ANC insiders say the meeting, at a secret location somewhere near Johannesburg, will present an opportunity for soul-searching about the direction of the party of government and the degree to which it is meeting the expectations of the electorate.

There was disappointment within the ANC about the party's performance in local government elections last month.

Although the ANC took about 60% of the vote, turnout among black voters was exceptionally low.

The challenge the ANC now faces is how to deliver on its local election promises of basic services such as water, housing and electricity.

Political clashes

Some party leaders may face censure at the lekgotla.

Although the ANC is insisting that the meeting will not turn into a political witchhunt, there is intense speculation that Winnie Madikizela -Mandela, the former wife of Nelson Mandela, could be severely criticised.

Her lacklustre performance as a member of parliament and president of the ANC Women's League has come under scrutiny.

On top of this, she has clashed publicly with President Mbeki.

The problem for the ANC is that Mrs Mandela remains extremely popular among the public and it would be damaging to the party as a whole if she was ostracised.

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See also:

07 Dec 00 | Africa
ANC loses support
05 Dec 00 | Africa
The ANC's acid test
18 Sep 00 | Africa
Mbeki attacked over job losses
11 Sep 00 | Africa
ANC in showdown with unions
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