World Focus: Mbeki foresaw a split – but not this sort of split
Wednesday 24 September 2008
In the early 1990s, before he was president of South Africa, Thabo Mbeki predicted the ruling African National Congress would split when the country's politics had normalised.
Mr Mbeki argued that the main component of the ANC would remain as a social democratic party, while its left component, together with the trade unions and the Communist Party, would form a left party.
Before the ANC's left components – the Congress of South African Trade Unions and the South African Communist Party – in one last gamble in 2005, decided to rally behind Jacob Zuma, in an attempt to change the direction of the ANC, each of them had already resolved to join forces and form a party of the left.
Both the memberships of Cosatu and the SACP resolved in 2005 to form a new party if they could not sway the ANC to become more pro-poor. However, when Mr Mbeki fired Mr Zuma for corruption in 2005, the latter joined forces with the leaders of the unions and Communist party, and signed a pact that instead of them forming their own party, they should back him (Mr Zuma) for the ANC presidency, and he would in turn make the ANC more pro-poor.
As the ANC plunges into its worst crisis since the end of formal apartheid in 1994, the absence of an effective opposition in South Africa remains one of the biggest shortcomings of the country's infant democracy.
The main reason why the ANC under Mr Mbeki has been so complacent, and why Mr Mbeki was ultimately forced out, is because the party had no opposition to fear that could dislodge it if it messed up. Only when a ruling party faces the real prospect of losing an election, will South Africa's politics be infused with the electoral dynamism the country so desperately needs to renew its faltering democracy and provide a better life for its people.
The forced removal of Mr Mbeki by his party, with only six months before his term ends when a general election takes place, has raised the spectre of some of his supporters forming a new political party. Some of the ANC supporters unhappy with Mr Zuma at the head of the party have threatened not to vote for the ANC in next year's general election. However, if the ANC breaks, it will not be the way Mr Mbeki and other senior ANC leaders have thought. It appears now that the left component will be in charge of the mainstream ANC, and the mainstream centrists rallied around Mr Mbeki are considering forming another party.
Ultimately, the best solution for South Africa is the breaking away of the ruling ANC tripartite alliance into a centre-left faction, and its left faction, and the assortment of current opposition parties on the centre-right.
William M Gumede is the author of Thabo Mbeki and the Battle for the Soul of the ANC
Malaysia Airlines plane crash exposes alarming flaw in airline security: over one billion flights made last year without stolen-passport check
International Women's Day 2014: The shocking statistics that show why it is still so important
Teacher shows sex tape featuring herself to pupils during class by mistake
Swarm of killer bees sting woman 1,000 times
Dead woman's body found sitting in a car after six years after direct debits ran $54,000 bank account dry
Britain's top vet sparks controversy with call for ban on slashing animals' throats in 'ritual' slaughters for halal and kosher meat products
If you're horrified by a flame-roasted dog, you should be shocked at a hog roast
Poor 'live like animals' says Boris's privately educated sister after going on 'poverty safari'
Exclusive: Impact of immigrants on British workers ‘negligible’
Vince Cable: Teachers 'know absolutely nothing' about the world of work
Ukraine crisis: Russia pledges to 'retaliate against sanctions' as Ukrainian president says Crimea vote will not be recognised
- 1 International Women's Day 2014: The shocking statistics that show why it is still so important
- 2 Australian man Rod Sommerville reacts to bite from deadly snake by reaching for cold beer
- 3 Teacher shows sex tape featuring herself to pupils during class by mistake
- 4 Singapore sting: Sky-high prices are pushing locals to the edge of affordability
- 5 Swarm of killer bees sting woman 1,000 times
£12000 per annum: Inspiring Interns: A small but growing chain of boutique hot...
£12000 per annum: Inspiring Interns: The company works with Tier 1 FTSE 100 Ba...
£45 - 60k Per Annum: Charter Selection: Highly profitable leisure brand, marke...
£30000 - £50000 per annum + Highly Competitive Salary: Austen Lloyd: Residenti...