Party divisions could prove costly

2008-06-14 00:00

The stabbing of African National Congress Western Cape secretary Mcebisi Skwatsha is a new low in the political life of the party. The constant fight for power and positions has meant that some members of the ruling party have thrown the rule of law out the window and the rules of the jungle seem to be the order of the day.

There is a belief that some ANC members can behave as they please without any fear of reprisal. Their unruliness is deplorable and can only work against the party.

The mid-naughties (00s) have proved to be rather treacherous for the ruling party as it hit the biggest storms since former ANC president Pixley ka Seme and company tried to oust Nobel Peace Prize laureate chief Albert Luthuli in the forties. Even though many will disagree, others have said this face-off borders on ethnic conflict as Xhosas want to maintain their firm grip on the ANC and stop Zulus from taking over.

Others have taken the recent chaos in the ANC further as they allege that the face-off between Thabo Mbeki and Jacob Zuma is a similarly ethnic in nature. Whether this is right or wrong, the country and the party will suffer from whatever sickness grips the ANC.

If these serious allegations are true, they illustrate how divisive the Zuma-Mbeki face-off is as well as the potential it has to destroy the party and all the great work that has been done by past leaders and party cadres.

Last weekend, the two leaders denied there is a battle between them as they urged party members not to use their names to meet their own selfish ends. However, it is an open secret that the two do not see eye to eye. One just needs to read Zuma’s various affidavits in his corruption cases to prove this.

The stabbing of a party official shows just how far the Zuma-Mbeki face-off has gone within the party and the ends members are prepared to go to to defend their faction. It’s a pity the two leaders have only now decided to “grow up” about their differences and it may just be too little too late.

If the ANC continues to be divided and little or nothing is done to unite the party ahead of the national general elections in 2009, this could prove costly as opposition parties will pounce on the opportunity to capitalise on the ANC’s weaknesses.

A strong opposition is great for a thriving democracy like ours, although neither the Democratic Alliance nor the Inkatha Freedom Party have proved to be worthy opposition. The South African Communist Party and/or Cosatu could prove to be better opposition than the DA and the IFP, individually or combined. Opposition against the ANC is within the ANC, not outside it.

South Africa does not need hooligans and thugs, let alone political parties who use violent means to get their way.

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