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11 Nov 2008 11:49
The African National Congress (ANC) will oppose the name of a breakaway party, the Congress of the People, led by former ANC chairperson Mosiuoa Lekota, a spokesperson said on Tuesday.
“If they register their name with the IEC [Independent Electoral Commission], that’s when the opposition will start,” said ANC spokesperson Ishmael Mnisi.
The ANC national working committee (NWC) said in a statement it decided the ANC needed to protect its heritage.
“With regard to the attempt of a group led by Mbhazima Shilowa and Mosiuoa Lekota to call themselves ‘Congress of the People’, the NWC decided that the ANC has a responsibility to protect the history of the organisation.
“The ANC will therefore oppose any attempt by any persons to appropriate the political heritage of the ANC to advance their own political ambitions.”
The statement said the Congress of the People in 1955 was “where the Freedom Charter was adopted after ANC volunteers—together with volunteers from the South African Indian Congress, the Congress of Democrats and the Coloured People’s Congress—had collected and collated the views of thousands of South Africans.”
It was an “important and iconic event” in the life of the ANC.
“The treason charges brought against ANC leaders in 1956 derived from the decisions taken at the Congress of the People.”
Lekota, former defence minister, and former Gauteng premier Shilowa are launching a breakaway party on December 16.
The new organisation has struggled to find an appropriate name.
First, it appeared to call itself the South African National Congress, but abandoned that name after it became clear that the ANC would object to a name similar to its own.
It then announced that its name was the South African Democratic Congress, but was forced to go back to the drawing board when it discovered that a party of that name had already been registered with the IEC.
Shilowa finally announced on Thursday that the party would be known as the Congress of the People.
A spokesperson for the Independent Electoral Commission was not immediately available to say if the new party had registered itself yet.
‘We are not shaken’
Meanwhile, the ANC said it was still waiting for the real masters of the Congress of the People to show their faces, Fikile Mbalula, ANC national executive member (NEC), said on Sunday.
“We know that Terror [Lekota] and them are just pawns, who are basically being used and these people who are said to be resigning every week are not the real people,” Mbalula, the former leader of the ANC Youth League (ANCYL), said.
He told journalists in Bloemfontein the party was still waiting “for the masters to basically come out of the party”.
Mbalula was speaking during a media briefing the ANC called in support of former ANCYL NEC member Saki Mofokeng, who denied a newspaper report that he was leaving the ANC for the breakaway formation.
“The recent article as published in the Sunday newspaper about me being part of the breakaway group from the ANC is very unfortunate and entirely not true,” Mofokeng said.
Mbalula said, unlike Mofokeng, there were many people in the ANC “polishing their shoes” whom the party knew would leave the organisation.
He said the resignation of so-called ANC members had not “shaken” the party, saying it had thousands of cadres and was “intact”.
“We are not shaken, we are unbreakable and we are indestructible.”
“Some of these people leaving the ANC, we do not know them, because they become famous because they are leaving, they are just unknown people from nowhere.”—Sapa
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