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Vol 49 No 21

Published 17th October 2008

South Africa

On the verge of a nervous breakdown

A formal break in the ruling African National Congress is looming.

On 13 October, its National WorkingCommittee, dominated by supporters of party President Jacob Zuma, suspended former party Chairman, Defence Minister Mosiuoa Lekota, who announced five days earlier that he was considering forming a rival movement. ‘Today we are serving divorce papers’, said Lekota. Zuma’s followers ‘may decorate themselves with the name ANC, but they are not ANC’. If it is going to be a divorce, it will not be a velvet one. Three factions are now vying for power in the African National Congress: the dominant group led by ANC President Jacob Zuma, which controls the National Executive Committee (NEC), the trades unions, the Youth League and the intelligence groups; their immediate rivals who remain loyal to ousted national President Thabo Mbeki; and a third group led by Mosiuoa ‘Terror’ Lekota. The activists in this last group are effectively Mbeki-ites without Mbeki: they want to form a breakaway party to challenge the Zuma-led ANC, but it is clear Mbeki will not join them.

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