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Last Updated: Saturday, 10 January, 2004, 22:32 GMT
Mbeki unveils election manifesto
President Thabo Mbeki (centre), Deputy President Jacob Zuma (left) and singer Muzi Mdletshe
Mr Mbeki (centre) joined in with the festive feeling
South African President Thabo Mbeki has launched a manifesto for his ruling African National Congress ahead of elections due later this year.

Mr Mbeki told supporters in Durban that the government had key achievements to salute in the decade since apartheid.

The party has pledged to invest $15 billion in infrastructure should it be re-elected and promised more jobs and ways to empower the black majority.

It says the investment should halve unemployment and poverty by 2014.

The ANC will launch its re-election campaign at a rally in Pietermaritzburg on Sunday at an event which has already attracted controversy.

The South African Broadcasting Corporation announced it would show live pictures of Mr Mbeki, saying it was important to cover the president's first speech of the new year.

But opposition parties complained Mr Mbeki would be acting as leader of his party, not of his country, and it would give the ANC an unfair advantage.

There has also been anger that no date has yet been announced for the elections which will mark a decade since the first multiracial vote which brought Nelson Mandela and the ANC to power.

The BBC's Barnaby Phillips in South Africa says President Mbeki and his party are assured of victory in the parliamentary and presidential elections, which are widely expected to take place in March or April.

'People's contract'

Mr Mbeki told 1,000 supporters that while the ANC had achieved a great deal there was still a long way to go.

$15bn for roads, rail, air transport, telecommunications and energy development
One million jobs to be created in next five years in expanded public works scheme
Promises to improve health services and battle HIV/Aids
More poor households to have electricity, water and phones
150,000 more police on the streets
More border security
Crackdown on corruption
He called for a "people's contract", saying one of the "most moving things I have seen in this country" was "people coming together to solve the problems we have been talking about - to create work and fight poverty".

"We have got to strengthen what must be a national people's movement," he said.

"We inherited an economy in decline, in very bad shape [but] it no longer is," he said, saying that the ANC had vastly improved infrastructure and despite the problems had not cut back on welfare.

The manifesto said spending increases were possible in areas such as health, education, housing and social welfare because the government was running a low national debt.

There were promises to do more to raise awareness of the HIV/Aids epidemic and fight to stop its spread - an area where Mr Mbeki has been criticised as doing too little - but no budgets were revealed.

The ANC also pledged to offer help to troubled countries such as its neighbour Zimbabwe as well as Angola and the Democratic Republic of Congo and to encourage peaceful developments throughout Africa.

Correspondents say the launch at the city hall was a colourful affair with choirs and dancers.

The often straight-laced Mr Mbeki joined in with the spirit of the occasion, dancing with Deputy President Jacob Zuma before the event.

Row erupts at Mbeki TV coverage
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03 Nov 03  |  Africa
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04 Apr 03  |  Africa
Country profile: South Africa
08 Nov 03  |  Country profiles
Timeline: South Africa
19 Nov 03  |  Country profiles

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