The day the ANC split
Former defence minister, Mosiuoa Lekota said on Wednesday that “this is probably the parting of the ways” [with the ANC].
Speaking at Talk Radio 702 in Sandton, Johannesburg, Lekota said: ‘I hope sense will prevail .. if not, there’s no going back,” in announcing that a ‘convention, or congress” would be called shortly to ‘determine how to proceed with democracy in this country”.
He did however stop short of calling for a breakaway party.
Lekota complained that ANC secretary general Gwede Mantashe had failed to respond to his open letter in which he pointed out that ‘the unusual situation that has now arisen in the ANC and the tripartite alliance requires extraordinary steps”.
‘I wish to place on record the concerns I see as gnawing away at the ANC with the hope that the leadership might wake up to the dangers our movement faces, ” Lekota said in the letter.
He said on Wednesday he had been called a ‘spoilt child” and that the ANC had said nothing about the issue of principles in the party which he had raised.
He said he had witnessed the rise of tribalism in the ANC, yet no action had been taken.
He said he had witnessed public appearances [of ANC members] which were “about how some individual must be made president of South Africa as if it were hereditary, as if someone was born to be president of South Africa”.
‘Where is the right of the people of South Africa to vote and choose their president?” he asked.
‘We must now stand and oppose this deviation, this arrogance — do we go with the Malemas of this world or with sober men and woman who are prepared to advance principles which are enshrined in the Freedom Charter?”
He said the convention or congress of disaffected politicians would decide ‘what they want to call themselves”.
When asked if he planned to form a new political party, he said: “It seems to be that it will be leading logically in that direction.”
After the party?
Political analyst Xolela Mangcu earlier told 702 that he thought the new party was unlikely to be a political force.
‘It [the party] has to come out of society, not as a splinter from another party. It has to be something that galvanises the people, like the MDC [Movement for Democratic Change in Zimbabwe]. It has to excite the people.”
He also questioned whether the Lekota would be able to have a political life outside of the party.
On the question of the perceived intolerance in the ruling party, he said ‘they [Lekota and others] were the ones that were intolerant under [former] president Thabo Mbeki”.
ANC leader Jacob Zuma has said Mbeki would be asked to help campaign at next year’s election, in an apparent attempt at reconciliation.
Zuma, widely expected to become president after the general election, was quoted as telling a meeting of black businessmen on Tuesday that any breakaway party would have no alternative policies to offer and could not last.
“You can’t believe in the ANC and its policies so deeply, and then form an organisation that repeats the same policies, that would be funny,” he said.
“If it happens it could be the anger and die down very quickly. When people are shocked, angry, quickly reacting, you could say ‘I’d better go away’.”
“What kind of alternative policies could you put across alternate to the ANC, that would challenge the ANC? I don’t think so, but I’m not saying it can’t happen.”
However, if people did that, Zuma said, “You would be stranded if you were in the ANC, you could be in cold and in the snow, and then say, I better go back home.”
Zuma said the ANC had in its history gone through a lot of similar experiences—such as opposition that arose within its ranks to taking up an armed struggle.
It had always succeeded in getting through them, he said.
The party deposed Mbeki over allegations of political interference in a corruption case involving Zuma.
Lekota, who resigned as defence minister after Mbeki’s removal, has accused the ANC of stifling dissent and flouting the rule of law. - Reuters