The cartoonist Brandon could not have drawn the nation’s collective despair more accurately when he likened South Africa to an aeroplane in flames, nose-diving out of control, ever downwards to the envitable deadly crash. The ANC’s hold on its members is also breaking fast. In provinces, branches and affiliate structures of the ANC ordinary differences have now turned into violent conflict. This is nothing but a national emergency, which calls for extraordinary steps. Parliament must be dissolved. Next year’s general election must be brought forward to give the government a new mandate. Mbeki must step down as president immediately. The ANC must call a special national conference to make a leadership decision rather than wait for provincial conferences to be completed by spring or for a list of conferences thereafter.