Tutu says he will no longer vote for South Africa's ANC

(Photo: Ecumenical News / Peter Kenny)Nobel Peace Prize laureate, Desmond Tutu, the former Anglican Archbishop of Cape Town speaking at the World Council of Churches in Geneva on April 20, 2008.

Nobel Peace Prize laureate Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu, who symbolized the struggle against apartheid almost on a par with fellow laureate Nelson Mandela, says he will no longer vote for the African National Congress, the party that has ruled the new South Africa.

"I'm not a card-carrying member of any political party. I have over the years voted for the ANC, but I would very sadly not be able to vote for them after the way things have gone.

"We really need a change," Tutu wrote in an opinion piece in South Africa's Mail and Guardian Newspaper.

Tutu said China had done much for the development of Africa, but that its cheap textiles had destroyed South Africa's fabric industry and that his country is now appearing to "kowtow to Beijing."

The retired archbishop still expresses his views publicly favoring nobody in his  criticism.

He noted that when he invited the Tibetan Buddhist leader and fellow Nobel Peace laureate, the Dalai Lama, to his birthday, the government "dilly-dallied with his visa" so that he could not come to the celebration.

Another example of South Africa's failing interrnational performance he cited was at the United Nations, where it has voted to support China and Russia in their backing of tyrannical regimes.

The South African freedom icion also said South Africa had fallen short in its position of power in allowing its neighbor Zimbabwe decline from a successul African country to becoming "a nightmare."

"The things we have voted for or against have been a disgrace. It has been a total betrayal of our whole tradition, and that's a very sad thing," said Tutu.

The former Anglican archbishop of Cape Town, who preached peace and freedom during the violent years preceding Mandela's release from prison in 1990, said the ANC did a sterling job of leading South Africans in their struggle for freedom from oppression.

While it was a "good freedom-fighting unit" it had not been easily able to make the transition to becoming a political party.

He said new reports indicate that freedom icon Nelson Mandela's health is again deteriorating and he was concerned that South Africa was not preparing itself for "when the inevitable ­happens."

"He's 94, he's had a rough time, and God has been very, very good in sparing him for us these many years,"

He said people who currently might want to criticize South Africa's political dispensation might be discouraged from doing so.

"People who might otherwise vote for different parties are constrained by the sense that it would be a slap in the face to Mandela. These issues are going to intensify what will, in any case, be a very traumatic experience," wrote Tutu.

The best memorial to Nelson Mandela "would be a democracy that was really up and running; a democracy in which every single person in South Africa knew that they mattered, and where other people knew that each person mattered."

He noted that today South Africa is the most unequal society there is.

South Africa has the capacity to be one of the most vibrant countries in the world. We have some of the most wonderful people of all races that you could imagine.

"Our potential is immense. And it's an ache, it is a very huge ache, for oldies like me to see our country deteriorating and slowly sliding off what we thought belonged to us – the moral high ground. It's a great pain to see that we still have the kind of disparity we used to decry under the apartheid dispensation," said Tutu.

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