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Last Updated:  Friday, 4 April, 2003, 09:24 GMT 10:24 UK
ANC gains from defections
ANC supporter
The ANC has not said it wants to change the constitution
Party defections in the South African parliament have given the African National Congress (ANC) a two-thirds majority for the first time - the number needed to change the constitution.

The change came as a result of nine members of parliament switching their allegiance from other parties to the ANC, which now has 275-seats in the 400-seat parliament.

The defections were made possible by a new law, which allows representatives in South Africa's national and regional legislatures to change parties during a two-week period, without seeking a new mandate from voters.

There is nothing democratic about a small elite class going against the wishes of the electorate and unilaterally changing parties
Reverend Musa Zondi
Inkatha Freedom Party
The BBC's Carolyn Dempster in Johannesburg says that the defection process, which ended at midnight on Thursday, has angered voters considerably.

The ANC has not said that it intends to change the constitution.

Voter apathy

It is not yet clear whether the defections at a regional level have given the ANC control over all of the country's 11 provinces.

It has already gained control of Western Cape province, following the defection of two MPs.

If the ANC gains control of KwaZulu-Natal, the Inkatha Freedom Party, which used to control that province, might pull out of central government.

"Floor-crossing downgrades democracy. There is nothing democratic about a small elite class going against the wishes of the electorate and unilaterally changing parties," said Reverend Musa Zondi, spokesman of the Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP).

Our correspondent says it might lead to voter apathy in next year's elections as people question the value of voting when their representatives can switch parties.

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27 Nov 01  |  Africa

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