Shilowa throws lot in with Lekota

Former Gauteng premier Mbhazima Shilowa said on Wednesday he would be throwing his lot in with former defence minister Mosiuoa Lekota.

Shilowa told the press conference in Johannesburg that he had decided to ‘lend his support” to Lekota in forming a new political party.

He said a convention would be held on November 2 and that he hoped men and women of all races and ages would volunteer their services.

“After much soul-searching and interrogation of the aims and objectives of the national convention and the possible outcome thereof, I have decided to resign my membership of the ANC with immediate effect and to lend my support to the initiative by making myself available on a full-time basis as the convenor and volunteer in chief together with comrade Mosiuoa and others,” he said at a press conference in Johannesburg.

He said he expected to be vilified for his decision.

He would first help establish a preparatory committee comprised of “prominent individuals”.

He said now that he had resigned from the ANC he could find an office and open a banking account for the convention.

If a party was formed, it would be “a hard slog” opening branches and forming party lists.

Lekota accused the ANC last week of deviating from past policy and said he was “serving divorce papers” on the ruling party.

Shilowa resigned alongside Lekota and a string of Cabinet ministers out of loyalty to to axed former president Thabo Mbeki.

Shilowa spoke of ‘forging a new path” and said he would travel ‘the length and breadth of the country” and would engage with, among others, communities of faith, farmworkers, business people, communists, the media, and sporting and cultural bodies.

Shilowa referred to the ‘putsch” against Mbeki, and said it was time for a reform of the electoral system. He said the president should be directly elected by South Africans.

He said South Africans across the board believed that corruption was a cancer which was not taken seriously and eroded the gains of South African democracy.

ANC spokesperson Jessie Duarte said on Wednesday that Shilowa’s resignation had come as no surprise.

“We were expecting it. It’s no surprise to the ANC. We knew he was going to do that,” added Duarte.

She said the ANC was also expecting the resignation of two provincial ministers in the Eastern Cape.

“Of course we would be ready to replace them immediately,” said Duarte.

‘Radical action’
ANC president Jacob Zuma, meanwhile, vowed “radical action” against Lekota on Tuesday.

“Unfortunately, comrades, as we prepare for elections we have to deal with the shenanigans of some elements within the ANC who [want] to break away and form a splinter party,” said Zuma.

These people could not accept the democratic process that led to the appointment of Zuma over Mbeki, and the subsequent recall of Mbeki by the ANC as the country’s president, he said.

“Today we are seeing patterns of behaviour which can best be described as charlatan,” Zuma said.

“They go around the country attempting to cajole the membership of our movement into a rebellion against our organisation. We are not going to tolerate that.

“While recent events have been painful, they should not be used to undermine the ANC and its leadership.”

Zuma accused the splinter group of trying to “steal the Freedom Charter”, the document that sets out the ANC’s priorities and goals. “In fact, they want to steal the Freedom Charter which is unlawful. It belongs to the ANC.”

He said “serving divorce papers” meant the party did not mean much to Lekota. “What does that mean? You are defeated in a democratic process and you take such action?”

Zuma said a special national executive committee meeting on Wednesday would discuss the matter “and take very radical decisions”.

“Our view is that we can’t allow people who are bitter about democratic processes to sow disunity and confusion within our structure,” he said.

Members were supposed to rally behind their leaders and “loyal members know how to raise issues in the party. The ANC is not a liberal organisation where people can do as they please and nothing happens.”

The party would act “very decisively” to rid itself of factionalism, he said, adding that history had been “very unkind” to breakaways from the ANC who realised they were on their own.

“It’s cold out there if you are out of the ANC, very cold,” he said, urging unionists not to take the disenchanted group seriously. - Sapa

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