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Partisans of South Africa’s ANC Accuse Splinter Group of Selfishness

Some supporters of South Africa's ruling African National Congress (ANC) party are accusing the former defense minister of selfishness after he announced formation of a new political party Sunday. Former defense Mosiuoa Lekota minister reportedly announced a breakaway party would be launched shortly, which is expected to split the ruling ANC and challenge its years of dominance in South African politics.

But partisans say the move to start a new political party is not because of former president Thabo Mbeki's recall, claiming the plan had been in the making since the Polokwane conference that led to the election of ANC leader Jacob Zuma. They add that dissidents were going to ensure a split in the party anyway and were simply using Mbeki's recall as an excuse to orchestrate their long-held ambition.

Some political observes doubt Lekota can secure enough funding or voters to challenge the ANC's dominance ahead of next year's general election. is From South Africa's capital, Pretoria, political science professor Rok Ajulu tells reporter Peter Clottey that South Africans should expect a new party early next month.

"According to developments of the last two or three weeks, it was very clear that after the recall of the former president, his loyalists decided that they were moving out of the party. There has been speculation that this is not something new that following the defeat of the president (Thabo Mbeki) in Polokwane that there have been movements to move out of the party by the group that was defeated at Polokwane," Ajulu pointed out.

He said the ANC splinter group is trying to get people excited about a new political party next month.

"There have been attempts to rally support for the new party. There were meetings in Eastern and Western Cape as well as meetings in Limpopo and quite clearly there is a determination on this group of people to move out of the ANC," he said.

Ajulu said it would be rather difficult to dismiss accusations that the splinter group had plans to divide the party after the Polokwane conference.

"There is a debate around that that these people decided that they were going to form a new political party as early as January as this year. Whether that is true or not remains to be seen, but quite clearly the argument here is that these people are bad losers and that they went to contest the election. The former president lost his bid for the third term, and thereafter they decided they were not going to remain in the party. So, the argument goes that the recall of Mbeki is an excuse to launch a new party, but the idea and the arrangements and the preparations have been there all along," Ajulu noted.

He said there seems to be proof that the splinter group had other plans after they were defeated at the last ANC conference in Polokwane, which led to the election of Jacob Zuma as the party's president.

"There seems to be credible given the approach and attitude of these people soon after Polokwane that there was a sense in which a defeat of this group from Polokwane was not broadly accepted by them. And they were not prepared to be part and parcel of the ANC, a party to which they were not in control. And the argument goes that senior members of the ANC have argued that these people are bad losers and that they were prepared to participate in an election so long as they were winners. And that if they were not winners, they were not prepared to be part of the ANC and that is the argument that remains around here," he said.

Ajulu said there are lots of challenges that the new party would face ahead of next year's general election.

"I quite agree with that and it is not a question of securing enough funds, but I don't think they would be in a position to form a party that would credibly challenge the ANC. The first point is that premises of a new party based on the electoral results in Polokwane last December, which would be the ANC Zuma faction at 60 percent and Mbeki faction at 40 percent. The calculation seems to be that they already have 40 percent of the ANC, I think that it is a flawed calculation because if you have 40 percent who voted for Mbeki who are ANC members, if you are asking them to move to another party is a different ball game," Ajulu pointed out.