Sunday, 12 October 2008

South Africa: Democracy wins

There has been a huge amount of controversy surrounding the change of leadership at the ANC conference last December. The party was effectively split into two camps. The Jacob Zuma camp won all the key posts in the organisation. The new president of the ANC Youth League is one Julius Malema. Lacking education and refinement, be has become the personification of the new leadership. He has promised to "kill for Zuma" and "eliminate the counter-revolutionary forces". The counter revolutionaries include the judiciary, the constitutional court judges and anyone that does not support Jacob Zuma.

One of the main objectives of this new leadership is to keep Jacob Zuma and the corruption allegations away from the courts. They want to find a "political solution".

The ousted ANC establishment remained silent for a few months. Then Lekota spoke out. He wrote an open letter to the ANC pointing out issues regarding long established ANC principles and policies. He was shouted down and showered with insults. As a result Mosiuoa Lekota called a press conference. Divorce papers have been served. The formation of a new party loyal to traditional ANC principles appears imminent.

The ANC seems to have been taken by surprise. Overtures have been made to try to keep the dissidents within the fold. But perhaps this is too little, too late. There seems to be a ground-swell of support for the new formation.

The ANC currently hold a 2/3 majority in parliament. The new leadership have been confident of maintaining and even increasing this majority. The new leadership's belief that the ANC could not lose promoted an excess of confidence and arrogance.

If the breakaway party goes ahead, then the next election should usher in a new era in democratic South Africa. This future will be one where the ruling party has at most a reduced majority. There is even a possibility that no party will hold an absolute majority.

To date, the opposition parties have had little impact. The Democratic Alliance is seen as a white party. The breakaway could change all of that.

This is good for democracy and provides renewed hope for the future of South Africa.

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