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ANC into PAC, COPE, EFF and now MAC won’t work

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South African President Jacob Zuma arrives to attend the Ordinary Session of the Assembly of Heads of State and Government of the African Union (AU) during the 30th annual AU summit in Addis Ababa on January 29, 2018. / AFP PHOTO / SIMON MAINA


The African National Congress formed in 1912 by African intellectuals, traditional chiefs and leaders as well as working men and women to fight against racist laws of the new Union of South Africa experienced its first schism in 1959. That year Robert Sobukwe led a group out of the ANC to form the Pan Africanist Congress of Azania abbreviated as PAC. They rejected the replacement of the Programme of Action with the Freedom Charter adopted in 1955. The first sentence of the Freedom Charter states that: “South Africa belongs to all who live in it black and white.”They also objected to the Communist Party of South Africa joining the ANC. Furthermore they did not accept that whites and Indians and coloured people should be admitted into the ANC. It should be for black Africans alone. And the name of the country should be changed to Azania. It’s ideology rested on African nationalist, socialism and continental unity.

The ANC was formed a couple of years after Dutch settlers and British colonial conquerors buried the hatchet in the back of the African black in South Africa and formed the Union of South Africa. The Union did not include black Africans, Indians and coloured people. The exclusion broadened into the 1913 Land Act, which evicted black people from the most fertile lands in the country. It would bring in more and more exclusion laws, which became the apartheid system as the 20th century rolled on.

The South African classic novel CRY, THE BELOVED COUNTRY on its very first page, paints the great contrast between the land the whites had carved out for themselves and the land they corralled black people onto: “There is a lovely road that runs from Ixopo into the hills. These hills are grass covered and rolling, and they are lovely beyond any singing of it. . . . The grass is rich and matted, you cannot see the soil. It holds the rain and the mist, and they deep into the ground, feeding the streams in every kloof. It is well-tended, and not too many cattle feed upon it; . . . But the rich green hills break down. They fall to the valley below, and falling, change their nature. For they grow red and bare; they cannot hold the rain and midst, and the streams are dry in the kloofs. Too many cattle feed upon the grass, and too many fires have burned it.

The idea that the struggle for liberation in South Africa, as canvassed by the ANC and exemplified in the life and presidency of Nelson Mandela, included not only the liberation of those excluded but also that of those who excluded others. This idea was unacceptable to members of the PAC.Over the years of the struggle, the ANC became a broad church accommodating all who believed in the Freedom Charter. When Freedom was achieved in 1994 the ANC had the majority in Parliament and it formed the government.

As one parliamentary election followed another the Pan Africanist Congress of Azania lost membership. It has only one member in parliament today.Yet, the fate of the PAC did not end the existence of schisms in the ANC. The government it formed was made up of the South African Communist Party, the Congress of South African Trade Unions and itself the African National Congress. Potential for schism was great. By the time Thabo Mbeki succeeded Nelson Mandela in June 1999 there were rumblings within the make-up of the government. The ANC did not allow the government to be radical enough for the communists and pro-Labour enough for the trade unionists. For these reasons both SACP and COSATU found against President Mbeki and promoted his erstwhile Vice President Jacob Zuma as alternative.

The process to enthrone Zuma as President led to the next breakaway from the ANC. Those who felt that ANC had been unfair to Mbeki broke away and formed the Congress of the People in 2008. Today COPE has 3 members in parliament.

One of the loudest supporters of Jacob Zuma in the process that crowned him president is Julius Malema, then president of the ANC Youth League. He even threatened to die for Zuma. But nothing in life remains the same. Not to speak of politics, which is like a multi-coloured multiple of peoples, ideas and even fancies and whims. And all of them in co-evolution, changing and restless all the time.

So, Malema kicked against Zuma and started kicking the ANC under Zuma. Malema was expelled by the ANC. He then formed the Economic Freedom Fighters, EFF, which recently celebrated its fifth birthday. They have 25 members in parliament.

And now, six months after Jacob Zuma was forced to resign as president of the ANC, a breakaway party has been formed with his supposed blessing. It is called Mazibuye African Congress MAC. Mazibuye, plural of Mayibuye means “Let them return.” Jacob Zuma cannot openly support the new party. If he does he loses his membership of the ANC and all his pensions and perks as former president.

Of all the formations that have come out of the ANC the EFF has the greatest possibility going forward. It is far-left in politics, disrespectful of elders doing nonsense and it is made up of young people. They are the only ones that the present ANC leadership is persuading to come back into the broad church! Their condition? The ANC must change its name! Can you imagine the party of Nelson Mandela changing its name to accommodate a breakaway party?

MAC makes much of going into the 2019 elections in a big way. So much hangs in the outcome of that election along with the possibility of a coalition government replacing the ANC government.

Over in Zimbabwe where Robert Mugabe and his ZANU-PF party ruled from 1980 until now, things are following the path and history of the ANC. Robert Mugabe was ousted towards the end of last year. Now a breakaway party has been formed calling itself the New Patriotic Front, NPF. Robert Mugabe has blessed the new party and asked them to vote for the opposition Movement for Democratic Change, MDC.

Political parties in Africa for now are shortterm conveniences when power is the objective, a ladder to use and throw away. So, can such parties create and guarantee democracy in African countries?
bankole.omotoso@elizadeuniversity.edu.ng


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