The Wild Frontier

Politics. News. New media. Old media.
Posted: October 15th, 2008 | By Ray Hartley

THE formation of a significant breakaway party by Mosiuoa Lekota is playing into three critical fault lines in the ANC:

1. Mbeki vs Zuma

The ANC allowed the political contest between Jacob Zuma and Thabo Mbeki to develop into a full blown war when it could have been nipped in the bud with a private agreement to place the party first. The consequence was that by the time Polokwane rolled around, the party was deeply divided between supporters of the two leaders. The term “personality cult” comes to mind. The problem with this approach is that once Zuma had won, there was no place for those who had campaigned to the bitter end for Mbeki to hide. The scars of the Polokwane confrontation run deep and descend through the organisation’s regional and branch structures.

2. Exile vs Internal
Representatives of the ANC’s “internal wing” – the UDF, which mobilised civic, small business and student organisations against apartheid – have always felt a little annoyed with the ANC’s exiled leadership, which returned to the country en masse to take many of the top government and political posts in the organisation. Internals felt they had endured the brunt of state repression, but were ignored by the post-1994 government. The ANC closed down the UDF and marginalised the once-powerful civic organisations, perhaps anticipating that they could spearhed grassroots protests against service delivery. Ironically, Mosiuoa Lekota, a former UDF leader who is now leading moves towards a breakaway from the ANC, was one of those who was included by the ANC leadership under Mandela. He was made premier of the Free State and later Defence Minister. Now that he is out in the cold, he could rekindle his old UDF contacts and build on grassroots organisation against service delivery in an effort to build a “second” mass democratic movement.

3. Ethnic loyalties
Announcing his intention to fight Zuma, Lekota referred extensively to the ethnic flavour of support for Zuma, including T-Shirts reading “100 percent Zulu”. Mbeki and his government had, without much justification, been labelled the “Xhosa nostra” in reference to Mbeki’s Eastern Cape roots. Although Lekota is not Xhosa, it is noteworthy that the Eastern Cape is likely to be the strongest region for a new breakaway party. This will reinforce the idea that there is a Zulu vs Xhosa ethnic divergence between Zuma’s ANC and the breakaway movement. This is a very dangerous tendency, which I have warned about in a previous post.

See also:
Zuma’s power is rapidly slipping from his hands
Mosiuoa Lekota announces challenge to Zuma’s ANC: Transcript
Free advice to those planning an ANC splinter party: Love something
ANC war: Radebe’s letter to Lekota – full text
ANC war: Lekota’s letter to Gwede Mantashe – Full text

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October 15, 2008 at 8:16 am

I look at the ANC “leadership” since Polokwane, and I wonder whether they fully think through the decisions they take or utterances made in public…everything they do or say seem to have results that surprise them all the time and find them unable to handle the fall out. Breakaway or not, it was unlikely that the ANC will retain two thirds majority next elections, after 14 years of voter abuse, the electorate is ready to serve divorce papers on the ANC…it will seem that the son of man is about to show up. Maybe not next elections, but he will definately show up sooner than expected


F.P Lidovho

October 15, 2008 at 8:46 am

All things balance in the end.

I see good and bad in the mbeki vs zuma situation.Ultimately a single party domination of national politics would never have sustained itself in any multi-cultural and economically dynamic country. The vey nature of a semi-capitalistic environment would not allow unilateral policy making. It is a blessing in disguise that this division in the top leadership might lead to a splinter faction that could challenge the status quo in politics.

The flip side ofcourse is the eminent ethnic/tribal conflict,that i could bet my mortgage, will occur at the not so far future. The ethnic debate has played within the ANC for as long as i can remember. The Xenophobic attacks that occured not so long ago are starting to look like the precursor to this catastrophic civil conflict.

Like Charles Dickens said…”It was the best of times, It was the worst of times”


General Kuphuka

October 15, 2008 at 11:27 am

Lekota not honest:
I would like to make a call to all citizens not to cosider what the former chairperson of the ANC(now a leader of disgruntled faction) is alluding. The issues he raises around tribalism,the contest between Zuma and Mbeki, its not true.
He must be honest to all South Africans,when some of us approached him before Polokwane conference and we also approached the likes of cde George asking them to persuade cde Thabo to withdraw,they declined.They thought at that time they have numbers towards Polokwane,they should have read that the contest was not on their side. The provincial nomination conferences showed them across the country that his faction is not in charge. Now i am deeply suprised that members of their calibre,being in the ANC for long,also understanding the traditions and customs,the organisational discipline and protocols of the organisation, they now go out to continue permanent factionalism to the extend of breaking away from the organisation that made them better human,that have saluted freedom charter all the times.
If they think there is a problem in the ANC,I humbly request to go back and check how the great chairman Mao advised us to solve problems.
Viva to the ANC!


G. Annandale

October 15, 2008 at 11:44 am

Unity ANC style

In the run-up to Polokwane the ANC alliance was very clearly split into two factions. Rumours did exist that Sexwale could lead a third faction but as we all know, nothing came of that.

In the months since Polokwane it became clear that the rifts in the party were deep and irreparable. Purges and power struggles became the order of the day as everyone in any position of power in the Alliance fighting for his own little space and agenda. The stampede to the trough has become like the migrating Wildebeest of the Serengeti.

Despite denials, assurances, appointment of Mothlanthe and excuses, party unity did not improve. Fist, knife and gunfights became common occurrences at ANC meetings. Factions were banned or physically barred from meetings.

The result of this is that there are now at least five factions in existence within the ANC alliance. In my opinion they are:
- The Cabal (Zuma, Nzimandi, Mantashe, Malema, Vavi and Mbete) Zuma may not even realise that this is where he fits since he is in fact just Mantashe’s stooge, a figurehead to garnish support.
- The Moderates (Phosa, Rhamaphosa and Sexwale) have this idea that they may have influence on where the party goes. Truth is, they were driven by their common hate of Mbeki. They are important in the party at least until the election because they appeal to moderates and the business community. Once they have served their purpose they will be chucked aside and only then will they realise they were abused.
- The Mbeki Faction (Rasoel, Manto, Manuel, and Balfour) is very unhappy with circumstances and fear being pushed out. They do not; however want to leave the party. The reasons for their reluctance to take action are legion. (Loyalty, personal financial risk, threats of expulsion, etc)
- The breakaways (Lekota, George). They are closely aligned with the Mbeki faction but have strong feelings against the Cabal and the direction they are steering the party.
- The Civil Group (Achmat, Boesak) They have strong UDF roots and dislike Mbekiites and the Cabal. They will not split now but they will affect voting patterns

No wonder Zuma is now using threats to keep people in the party. I suggest he starts with discipline within the Cabal.



October 15, 2008 at 1:41 pm

With all due respect I also did not think that TM must do third term and when he lost in PLK I thought its okay, even though I did not think JZ was a suitable candidate. Then the next thing JZ lets the Malemas on the lose to attack TM. That was it for all of us who are now ready to vote for the new party.At first the PLK hooligans who were just terrorising the place, who embarrased us to the international world. Then the stupid “we will kill for Zuma” statmnt. The list is endless.When you hear Vavi do you see him conversing with Obama? Okay lets try another one. Malema versus Obama. Do you see what I mean? These people will have to represent us in high places and they just cannot do it.



October 15, 2008 at 5:47 pm

Spot on with your comment re: Zulu vs Xhosa. Very dangerous. I also believe the assasination of Mbeki’s bodyguard at an extremely opportune time, and the attack on Lekota’s, says something of the ruling parties tolerance (indeed methodology) pertaining to crime.
Crime is used to smudge out threats to power, and for other useful purposes. If you add to that an ethnic component (and many Afrikaners in Pretoria believe they are attacked for this reason) – you’re left with a devilishly dangerous brew.



October 15, 2008 at 6:28 pm

Too many of you guys are commenting as if this is a Egoli, Days of our lives, Yizo Yizo soapie.

The personalities and past rights and wrongs are immaterial and irrelevant to the issues of governance, democracy and ideological differences.

We are on the right path to deeper meaningful democracy and we should all be rejoicing. The ANC politicians need to start working, not at plugging holes in their ranks, but head-down hard work at delivering on their promises. That is the only way the ANC can save itself.

Its funny to hear them carry on like an opposition party though. They are currently doing exactly what they complain about the DA.


Eli Jikelele

October 16, 2008 at 10:38 am

Hate to have to agree with “Larry” but he happens to be correct!

We all know where the problems are and what is broken. We all know exactly what the priorities are. The absolute bottom line is the new party needs to pull finger and tell us how they plan to solve the problems with service delivery.

I could not give a rat’s *** if their intentions are noble and pure. They are all politicians and will promise anything to get our votes.

Give us a game plan with clear deliverables to which we can hold you accountable and if we find out that you lied then we kick you out at the next election.



November 9, 2008 at 2:03 pm

General, stop speaking like a Corporal.
Sam and Patric have started using their heads and that is why they broke away from ANC. Countries are NOT governed by using tribalism, traditions or customs. After reading what you have to say, it has become a lot clearer to me why RSA is to-day where it is.

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