A two-day national convention convened by former leaders of the ruling
African National Congress is under way in Johannesburg. VOA's Delia
Robertson reports from the convention, it is likely to lead to a call
for a formation of a new political party.
Some 6,000 exuberant
and vocal South Africans, most of them traditional supporters of the
ruling African National Congress, came to the Sandton Convention Center
to register their support for the formation of a new political party.
have already resigned their membership in the ANC, or by their
attendance have ensured that they will be expelled, as promised earlier
this week by ANC President Jacob Zuma. Out on the stump in
KwaZulu/Natal Saturday, Zuma said those leaving the party were
In welcoming delegates, co-convenor and former
ANC chairman, Mosiuoa Lekota said the current leaders of the ruling
party are abusing their power to advance their personal interests and
those of their supporters.
"The issue before our nation is
whether we will have, we will put power in the hands of men and women who
are committed to sustaining this constitution or not," he said. "That
the issue. If the issue confronting the people of this country must
rather be watered down or sustained, I say the majority of them will
vote for a party that seeks to sustain that constitution."
catalyst for the breakaway movement was the ousting of former South
African President Thabo Mbeki by Zuma just months before his term of
office ended. The ANC said it had lost confidence in him following a
court ruling in which the judge said the ongoing corruption
investigation against Zuma may have been politically motivated.
before a new party has been formally agreed or a political platform
adopted, it is clear the new party will seek to change the current
proportional electoral system and to directly elect the president of
Barney Pityana, rector of the University of South
Africa and former head of the statutory Human Right's Commission, tells
VOA the system no longer meets the needs of the country because the
trust inherent in the system is being betrayed by the current ANC
"The responsibility of the political leaders whom we
trust because we elect them, I guess, is never to betray that trust,"
said Pityana. "And part of that trust is based on their real commitment
to the constitution and to enhancing our democracy, not just by word
but also by deed."
"I have said that there are certain developments in
the country that really completely betray that trust in our country
today. The first one is a culture of intolerance and violence, violent
language and intimidation, that clearly has become in the
stock-in-trade of the ANC of our time," he added.
parties also sent delegates to the convention - most had encouraging
words for the new movement. Inkatha Freedom Party leader Mangosuthu
Buthelezi, celebrating his 80th birthday in KwaZulu/Natal said in
a statement sent to the convention that South Africa's democracy is
ailing and that the people of South Africa have been forgotten by the
African National Congress.