Four political leaders have openly associated themselves with moves towards the formation of a new ANC-based political party. They are:
The former defence deputy minister led Thabo Mbeki’s failed campaign to secure a third term as ANC president in Polokwane last year. Of the leaders publicly associated with Lekota’s initiative, he has the most grassroots support, but it is limited to the Eastern Cape.
But his canvassing for Mbeki last year means he has a network of contacts among Mbeki supporters countrywide. George lacks charm and diplomacy, as shown at Mosiuoa Lekota’s media conference this week, where he gave some rash answers to questions.
At the Polokwane conference he kept on remarking on how amazed he was by Mbeki’s “overwhelming” support, earning himself the title “Comical Ali”. He will be useful for Lekota as an organiser, but not as the party’s public face.
Lekota was ANC national chairperson for 10 years, but was hounded out of the leadership in a humiliating manner at Polokwane. A former UDF leader accustomed to dealing with whites, he had a large role in convincing the National Party to disband and join the ANC and worked hard to pacify Afrikaners about their future in South Africa.
Lekota was reprimanded by Parliament in 2003 after the Mail & Guardian revealed that he had failed to declare his interests in a wine cellar and other properties. He claimed it was an oversight.
He was also central to the arms deal inquiry by the auditor general, public protector and national director of public prosecutions — which essentially cleared the Mbeki administration of wrongdoing.
He has the energy to traverse the country mobilising and is clever and articulate, but has a reckless tongue.
The former president of Cosatu and the teachers’ union Sadtu, Madisha was ousted from both for supporting Jacob Zuma.
He can legitimately claim to be a victim of a purge, although he contributed to his downfall by making careless remarks about Zuma, which cost him support.
He is still admired in his home province of Limpopo and has scattered support nationally, but his following in the labour movement base has diminished since his heyday.
Ngonyama quit as Eastern Cape finance minister to become the ANC’s head of the presidency, a position he held until Mbeki’s Polokwane defeat. An Mbeki defender to the end, he was clearly taken aback by the huge anti-Mbeki backlash at the ANC National General Council in 2005.
A dabbler in various businesses, he infamously said ANC leaders “did not struggle to be poor” when asked about his interests.
Ngonyama did not feature at Lekota’s press conference but phoned radio stations voicing his support for the initiative.
He has pockets of support in the Eastern Cape and the Free State, where he was deployed by the previous ANC national executive committee. He has continued working as a spin-doctor, phoning radio stations to articulate the perspective of disaffected ANC members.