Split the ANC?

A lot has been written about the feuding within the ANC and the talk of forming a new party by some supporters of former President Thabo Mbeki. However, most of the articles I have read focused on former minister’s views as to why a new party may be needed, and left me (and I am sure many readers outside of South Africa) wondering if there was any grassroots support for it. This article in the Guardian, however, suggests that there may very well be support for it, at least in some regions of the country.

My concern is that the new party may not have a broad, multi-ethnic support, and could end up splitting the ANC across ethnic lines. The danger then is that violence could breakout between the supporters of the ANC headed by Zuma and the new party. What makes this fear real is the threat by the ANC’s youth leader “to kill for Mr. Zuma.”

I am not going to weigh in as to whether the ANC should split, since there are good arguments as to the pros and cons: A pro is that it is good for democracy and accountability to have two strong parties. The downside of splitting the ANC is that it could lead to gridlock at a time when South Africa needs real reform.

It may be inevitable that the ANC is destined for a split, but the ANC leadership must put the interests of the country before their personal ambitions, because the dangers of a split are real and could destroy South Africa. Zuma, as the leader of the party, has the power and responsibility to prevent the ANC from breaking up by addressing the legitimate grievances of those contemplating leaving the party.

The first, and main issue Mr. Zuma needs to address is the lack of respect shown by his supporters for the rule of law and the independence of the judiciary. I would even suggest that, for the sake of his party and the country, Mr. Zuma should step aside until his corruption trial takes its course. Second, he needs to fire anyone in the ANC who advocates violence, and should start with the ANC Youth League leader Julius Malema. Otherwise we maybe witnessing the beginning of a dangerous period in South Africa, and Mr. Zuma may go down in history as the person most responsible for the aftermath.

Comments are closed.