Zuma: ANC is real S Africa power


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The head of South Africa's governing African National Congress, Jacob Zuma, has said the party, not the government, is the real centre of political power.

"Power lies in the ANC. It's the ANC that wins elections," Mr Zuma told London's Financial Times newspaper.

Mr Zuma defeated President Thabo Mbeki as party leader in a bruising and divisive election contest in December.

He has since been confirmed as the party's presidential candidate in 2009, when Mr Mbeki is to step down.

"It is the ANC that has the power to identify people who must be part of government. This is the ANC government. It is not the government of its own," the ANC leader said.

Mr Zuma also suggested that the authority of cabinet ministers, including President Mbeki, was waning.

Corruption charges

BBC Africa analyst James Read says Mr Zuma's latest comments will do nothing to heal the rift in the party that has ruled South Africa since the end of apartheid.

There are now two centres of power in South Africa, with Mr Zuma in charge of the ruling party and Mr Mbeki serving out his term as president of the country until 2009.

JACOB ZUMA Played key role in fight against apartheidPlagued by corruption allegationsAcquitted on rape chargesSeen as charismatic <a class="" href="/1/hi/world/africa/7154928.stm">Zuma enjoys crowning </a><a class="" href="/1/hi/world/africa/7153473.stm">Controversial arms deal</a>

In January, Mr Zuma called for party unity and gave a reassurance that there should be no apprehension about relations between the ANC and government.

But there were questions whether Mr Zuma could really deliver on promises of unity and continuity.

There is a push by some of Mr Zuma's supporters for an early end to Mr Mbeki's presidency.

Mr Mbeki's allies say the president will fight on.

Mr Zuma is due to go on trial for corruption in August.

He has vehemently denied the corruption charges, and argues that the case is politically motivated.

If he is cleared of the charges, he will most certainly be South Africa's next president.

The 65-year-old has said he would only resign if a court found him guilty.

Our analyst says Mr Zuma must also convince a sceptical business community that he can maintain the country's economic stability and growth.