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Monday, 11 September, 2000, 12:37 GMT 13:37 UK
ANC in showdown with unions
Trade unionists
Cosatu: Dissatisfied with economic policies
By Paul Danahar in Johannesburg

South Africa's ruling African National Congress is meeting its coalition partners to re-define their common political stance after increasingly public and acrimonious bickering on a number of issues.

The meeting, being held at a secret venue in Pretoria, will concentrate mainly on economic policy.

The driving force behind this one-day meeting is the growing animosity between the ANC and its coalition partners: the South African Communist Party (SACP) and the Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu).

The meeting is intended to improve the lives of the millions of poor, black South Africans who six years after the end of apartheid have seen little improvement in their daily lives.

Almost a third of the country's people are unemployed, and nearly half still have no running water in their homes.

The SACP and Cosatu believe the government's market-friendly policies and tight spending limits are not addressing these social needs.

There is also a sense among ordinary black people that the white minority is still being allowed to keep the spoils from the apartheid era, and is unwilling to make voluntary sacrifices to help the poorest of the poor.

Aids policy

The other key issue that has started to divide the coalition is the government's Aids policy.

Aids is not publicly on the agenda for today's talks, but there is growing anger among some members of Cosatu over the government's refusal to accept that HIV causes Aids.

This meeting does not reflect a crisis in the coalition, but with local elections set for November, it does need to pull itself together on the key issues affecting this country.

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See also:

01 Jun 99 | South Africa elections
South Africa's economy: Much to be done
10 Jul 00 | Africa
Controversy dogs Aids forum
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