Lekota’s attempt at realigning the ANC
By Mishkah Anthony
8 October 2008
Speaking at a news conference in Johannesburg former African National Congress chairperson Mosiuoa Lekota says a national convention will be called in the next few weeks to discuss the direction the ANC has taken.
Lekota has launched a scornful attack on the party, saying it was deviating from the Freedom Charter and the Constitution. Lekota did not announce a breakaway party, as expected, but agreed that he was serving “divorce papers” on the ANC.
Lekota resigned as defence minister in protest at the firing of Thabo Mbeki from the presidency. He told the media that he had the support of a large number of ANC members in all provinces.
Lekota says many activists have already left the ruling party because of the manner in which the new direction had been implemented. He bemoaned the personal attacks on him after the open protest letters he had written. Lekota says he and his comrades represent the true ANC, grounded in the Freedom Charter and the Constitution.
He and his supporters are planning the convention within the next few weeks, to discuss the direction the ANC had taken. If they don’t “get satisfaction”, as he put it, some sort of organisation would be formed.
Polital analyst Keith Gotchalk says, this shows the continuing tension within the ANC.
“I think the major point is that the ANC needs for their leaders to insure that when people complain, that they get a reply to their complaints and don’t find their letters unanswered”, says Gotchalk.
Lekota says people will have to choose whether they support what he called “undisciplined elements” like ANC Youth League leader Julius Malema or “sober” men and women. He expressed the opinion that Malema had been acting on his leaders’ instructions with his “kill for Zuma” statements.
In a obvious reference to ANC president Jacob Zuma, Lekota condemned leaders who sing songs supporting violence. He also questioned why “some people” were acting as if they had been born to be president. Lekota is unhappy with the ANC’s so-called political solution to Zuma’s legal woes, saying everybody should be equal before the law. When asked whether he had the support of axed president Mbeki, the former defence minister said he could not speak on Comrade Thabo’s behalf.
Meanwhile UCT Political analyst Zwelethu Jolobe says for now, South Africans need to watch this space. Jolobe said that the fact that Lekota still needs to hold a national convention indicates that things are not finalised yet. He added that broader and public consultation needs to happen.
Jolobe says that it as always been known that there has been serious divisions within the ANC for sometime now, and the main issue has always been with regards to their ability to manage their differences.
“I think that Lekota and those voices that he represents, shows us that the ANC has not be able to successfully manage their differences.
As far as the ANC is concerned, things are not looking good for that organisation.”
Jolobe added that, how bad they are, have yet to be seen in the next few weeks and these developments definitely bodes well for democracy in South Africa.
In his reaction to Lekota’s announcement, ANC secretary general Gwede Mantashe told media, Lekota’s discontent had been clear even before the party’s Polokwane conference, where he experienced the hostility of members. Mantashe agreed that any split would hurt the ANC but insisted that the new leadership was being true to the Freedom Charter.
Speaking at a briefing for black businesspeople in Sandton yesteraday Zuma said, any new party formed through an ANC split would probably not have a long life span. The ANC president asked which policies could be put across alternate to the ANC that would challenge the ruling party. Zuma says the ANC has in its history gone through many similar experiences, but has always succeeded in getting through them.