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Celebration and recrimination as South Africa's ANC marks centenary

Jerome Delay / AP

African National Congress (ANC) supporters listen to South African President Jacob Zuma address a crowd gathered for the ANC's 100th anniversary celebrations in Bloemfontein, South Africa, on Jan. 8, 2012.

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The ANC's suspended Youth League leader Julius Malema (center right) shares a light moment with former President Thabo Mbeki (center left), who has been heavily criticized by Malema in the past. It is the the first major ANC meeting Mbeki has been seen at since his fall from grace. Winnie Madikizela-Mandela and Sindiso Magaqa look on.

It is interesting to observe the interactions of powerful figures in the African National Congress as they celebrate the 100th anniversary of the party, which remains electorally popular but is riven by power struggles and accusations of greed and corruption.

Controversial Youth League leader Julius Malema once described Thabo Mbeki as having "become a dictator", but in recent months he has heaped praise on the former president in what many see as an attempt to undermine his successor, Jacob Zuma.

Reuters reports:

President Jacob Zuma has said the ANC will rule "until Jesus comes" but the next few years will be critical ones for the party that has won a landslide victory in every election for the last 18 years.

The ANC describes itself as the home of the working class and the poor, but inequality has grown in recent years even as a small black elite around the party has become multimillionaires flaunting lavish lifestyles.

Unemployment hovers around 36 percent and soars to 70 percent among young people. Half the country's population lives on just 8 percent of the national income, according to the Congress of South African Trade Unions. Read the full story.

Related: On uneasy ANC centenary, a call for cleansing.