New party will face the voters’ judgment

2008-11-01 00:00

In a fledgling democracy such as ours in South Africa, it is imperative that we do not have a one-party state and that we are spoilt for choice not just during elections but also in Parliament.

I have often said that a dominant African National Congress, especially with a two-thirds majority, can only be detrimental not just to the opposition parties but also to the voters who effectively give power to the party to govern with impunity.

There is nothing new or extraordinary about the party that former defence minister Mosiuoa Lekota, together with his cronies, former deputy Mluleki George and former Gauteng premier Mbhazima Shilowa, are starting. In fact, Lekota and company pulled a “Ziba Jiyane”. He was a former Inkatha Freedom Party national chairperson who took advantage of floor crossing and broke away from the party, taking with him some of the party’s members to form his own. The troubles that followed him are immaterial. It would have been interesting to see what would have happened had Lekota left the ANC a couple of years back before the floor-crossing window opened.

The mandate of the media, among others, is to inform and, in Lekota’s case, they have done more than this. Just like they did for former president Thabo Mbeki ahead of the ANC’s elective conference in Polokwane, they are bordering on campaigning on his behalf, forsaking their independence.

Perhaps this is largely due to the fact that owners and workers of the media are so keen to see change that they have become carried away. The media got it wrong in Polokwane about Mbeki winning a landslide victory and I am adamant that they also have it wrong this time.

What has been even more shocking is Mbeki’s silence on the issue. How can Mbeki keep quiet when his former generals have left a party that he says he is still committed to, because of the way he was treated?

How can Mbeki remain silent while these generals start a new party in his name, siphoning his political home’s support base?

Even when Mbeki finally made a statement, he sent a letter to the president of his party, making no attempt to speak out publicly against its actions and initiatives.

“Shikota”, as this initiative has been dubbed, has Mbeki’s name written all over it. Mbeki joined the ANC when he was about 16 years old, has worked for it for more than 50 years and does not know any other employer other than the ANC. When you disempower someone in the way that he has been, what options are left? The ANC leadership took away everything he was passionate about.

The voters will be the final judge on the matter and I have a feeling that “Shikota’’, with some members of the media, will be left with egg on their faces.

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