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11 Jul 2008 00:00
Pan Africanist Congress of Azania (PAC) president Letlapa Mphahlele has succeeded in extending his term of office from three to five years and usurping the powers of the national organiser, the deputy president and the national chair.
The move has raised the ire of the rest of the PAC and increased the likelihood of another split less than a year after former deputy president Themba Godi’s September 2007 departure to form the African People’s Convention.
Mphahlele’s powers were increased at a special party congress held last weekend at Fort Hare University in the Eastern Cape.
Last year Mphahlele suspended the entire PAC national executive committee, claiming that there was a “party crisis.” In the same wave of suspensions, former party leaders and MPs Motsoko Pheko, Clarence Makwetu and Stanley Mogoba were suspended. Pheko’s membership has since been revoked.
These events have resulted in the party splitting into two conflicting factions: the “new PAC”, led by Mphahlele, and the “old PAC” which is collectively, led by old-party stalwarts.
Mphahlele said the congress had aimed to revive the party in preparation for next year’s general elections.
Gauteng chairperson of the PAC Thami ka Plaatjie complained that valid party members had been excluded from the weekend congress.
“Last year [Mphahlele] introduced a new party-membership form.
According to him, if you don’t have the new membership card, you are not a member.
“Even I as a provincial chairperson, I am considered a non-member,” he said.
“That’s why we are having our own congress in Bloemfontein next month. We have recruited all the party stalwarts because we don’t want to lose ground with traditions and principles of the real PAC,” said ka Plaatjie, adding that after the August congress there would be two PACs.
He said his faction, which comprises veterans such as former party presidents Mogoba and Makwetu has decided to ignore Mphahlele.
“Our plan is to reach out to the public as much as possible. We are also mobilising Themba Godi to support us. We need the support because we can’t challenge the ANC in splinter-groups,” he said.
This week Mphahlele denied that he was centralising power and dismissed suggestions that he wants to run the party without a constitution.
But he acknowledged that during last week’s “special congress” amendments were made to the old constitution. The amendments included scrapping the positions of national organiser, national chair and financial registrar.
The term of office of the leaders had been increased from three to five years, but leaders would only be allowed to serve two terms instead of the previous three.
“Did [party founder Robert] Sobukwe have a deputy? Mphahlele asked.
“The history of this party has shown us that the position of deputy president in particular, is a source of conflict,” he said, referring to the conflict between past PAC presidents and their deputies, most recently between Pheko and Godi.
“As far as I know, bona fide members of the PAC have never had a problem with my [leadership style].
All my actions are in line with the old PAC constitution, which was established in 1959 when this party was formed,” he said.
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