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South Africa’s Former President De Klerk Under Fire Over ANC Remarks Ahead of Election

Former President Frederick W. De Klerk is coming under intense criticism after calling on South Africans not to vote for the ruling African National Congress (ANC) in next week's general election. De Klerk reportedly urged voters to rather vote for parties that would uphold the constitution, saying the ruling party has failed to live up to its promises. He added that the ANC has meticulously undermined the rule of law by over politicizing all state institutions, including the National Prosecuting Authority. But South Africa's Communist Party which is in alliance with the ANC described the accusation as shameful and unwarranted. Mr. De Klerk is widely respected as playing a pivotal role in South Africa's transition to democracy from white minority rule or apartheid.

Francis Maleka is the spokesman for the Communist Party. He tells reporter Peter Clottey that the former president has continuously sought the destruction of the ANC and its alliance.

"The black couldn't help but not hide its actual roots and his deep link to the apartheid regime that has sought to destroy the ANC all the time for the historic alliance that the ANC has with the South African Communist Party. Now, he has come out in shame in this democratic dispensation and expressed his hatred for the presence of the communists in the ANC. And we think that the people of South Africa will show him and reject his notion and they would go all out and vote for the ANC as they have done repeatedly in the past three elections," Maleka noted.

He described as disturbing the former president's remarks.

"This is a man without any constituency who is hoping to appeal to the emerging anti-communism sentiments in the country led by reactionaries like him," he said.

Maleka dismissed De Klerk's accusation, saying it was a calculated attempt to confuse voters ahead of the election.

"The intention is to scare our people. The ANC in the past political period had a two-thirds majority in parliament and not at once has the ANC ever proposed that it wants to amend the constitution. Instead, all the other political parties have hinted their willingness and their desire to amend the constitution and as soon as they do not achieve that they want to accuse the ANC of wanting to change the constitution," Maleka pointed out.

He said the ruling party has no intention whatsoever in changing or amending the constitution.

"These are the people (opposition) who do not have the respect for the constitution because what they have a gripe with is the fact that the president of the ANC has made representation to the NPA. And on the basis of those representations the allegations that the NPA wanted to pursue against him in court were dropped. That is the constitutional provision that the so-called masters of democracy and those who respect the constitution cannot help but abide by. We are the crafters of this constitution, the progressive clauses in this constitution we put them there against the will of De Klerk and his other negotiators in the process of the negotiations. So, why should we change the constitution?" he asked.

The former president reportedly said the country he once led had in recent times seen a sorry descent from the rule of law with what he described as being the handiwork of the ANC's politicization of all institutions of state. He also expressed his displeasure after the National Prosecuting Authority dropped the eight year old graft charges against the ruling party's president candidate Jacob Zuma.

De Klerk said the NPA's decision last week to drop the prosecution of Zuma could be identified by future historians as the point at which South Africa began to stray from the rule of law. He also took a swipe at the ANC leader's recent statements, that the head of the Constitutional Court was almost like God contending it was unfortunate and unacceptable in a democracy.

He said it was not only the ANC that posed a threat to the Constitution, though its majority and strength meant it posed the most important threat.

Meanwhile, the ANC is expected to maintain its two-thirds majority due to the overwhelming support that it enjoys among ordinary South Africans. But the recent breakaway Congress of the People (COPE) is expected to challenge the ruling party in next week's election.

Some political analysts are however wondering if the new opposition COPE party has what it takes to undermine the dominance of the African National Congress. This comes after reports that the splinter group of disgruntled senior ANC figures has seen its prospects recede to the point that the only question is whether the ANC will win the two-thirds of seats in parliament it needs to change the constitution at will.

According to a report recently released by Namura (a global financial services group) COPE's support is estimated to range from five to 20 percent. The report suggests that COPE's failure to gain more backing shows how difficult it has been to set up a party in just a few months on a shoe-string budget.

Some observers say although many South Africans complain bitterly about the ANC's failure to deliver on the promises of jobs, homes and better life made at the end of apartheid in 1994, few contemplate political change.