The current infighting within South Africa's ruling African
National Congress (ANC) party took another dramatic turn Thursday after the
former head of communications resigned from the ranks to join the new breakaway
political party. Smuts Ngonyama says he was upset with the ANC's disrespect of
authority and values when South Africa's former President Thabo Mbeki was
forced to step down. The ruling party forced Mbeki to leave office for
allegedly influencing graft charges against party president Jacob Zuma. The
move angered Mbeki loyalists, who revolted to form a new political party to
challenge the ANC in next year's general elections. From South Africa's
capital, Pretoria, Smuts Ngonyama tells reporter Peter Clottey that all
attempts to reconcile with the ANC proved futile.
reasons are very simple. The ANC is like a family. It actually teaches you to
be able to see things that are wrong even within itself. And once you feel that
there is absolutely nothing that you can do, you feel that you need to leave.
So that is what has happened with me. I felt that maybe it is necessary for me
to move on with my life and join the new party because there are certain
fundamental values that our predecessors within the ANC taught us. So I felt
that I wouldn't want to undermine or sort of let them be trampled upon by young
people. For instance, respect for the offices of authority and respect for
members of our society broadly and respect for our revolution in general,"
Ngonyama pointed out.
denied his action betrayed the confidence the ruling ANC party reposed in him.
betrayal is actually those that believe that they hold you hostage, because ANC
gave you so much in terms of experience. However, people forget that we joined
the ANC at a time when it was not funny and when it was not easy to join under
the struggle, and we are prepared to die for the liberation of our country.
However, if we believe that, those values that underpin our struggle in nation
building that Nelson Mandela launched after 1994 and the values that President
Mbeki continued with and the values that our forefathers and predecessors of
the ANC reinforced are actually undermined and taken for granted. That is
betrayal because if we stay irrespective of this, people would say we are
actually accomplices," he said.
said he is not interested in holding a portfolio in the breakaway splinter
group from the ruling ANC.
have taken this position based on principles and driven by my own conscience,
not necessarily really for a position this time round because I have my hands
full working on the leadership institute of the former South African President
Thabo Mbeki. However, I'm joining the party so that I can lend my shoulder in
whatever way, and that would actually make it grow," Ngonyama noted.
said all attempts to reconcile differences with the rank and file of the ruling
ANC party failed.
have tried all that, and as you would understand, there were many people who
were speculating that I might leave. But I decided to hang on because in me, I
was hoping that things are going to change. But there is generally disrespect
of the population because we believe that the ANC is very strong and people
feel indebted and they feel obliged to vote for the ANC. A party that was given
plus or minus two-thirds majority by South Africans, we have to be very careful
so that we don't take that mandate and that love for granted to the ANC and
some of us are trying to make that statement," he said.
said he is no longer able to tolerate or embrace the recent
disrespect of authority in the party and dismissed reports that he was one of
the funders of the new party.
ANC stalwart Fatima Meer has come out in support of the ruling
party's splinter group. Endorsing the new movement, Meer said she no longer had
faith in the African National Congress. She joins several others who have
resigned from the ruling ANC to join the splinter group formed by former
defense minister Mosiuoa Lekota and former
Gauteng premier Mbhazima Shilowa.