9 Oct 2008

By Christopher Kidanka and Agencies 

As former South Africa Defence minister Mosiuoa Lekota announced plans to lead a breakaway ANC faction yesterday, a respected Dar es Salaam-based political scientist said parallels could be drawn in Tanzania. 

Prof Mwesiga Baregu of the University of Dar es Salaam said the ruling Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM) was showing signs of an internal struggle similar to the one that was threatening to split ANC down the middle. 

But CCM publicity secretary John Chiligati scoffed at the comparison, saying the party remained united. 

Yesterday, Mr Lekota was quoted as saying they were serving �divorce papers", complaining about what he called "undemocratic tendencies" in the ANC, which he said had betrayed its own principles. 

In Dar es Salaam, Prof Baregu told The Citizen that what was happening in South Africa was a clash between conservatives and modernists. 

He said an ANC split was inevitable after Mr Thabo Mbeki was ousted from the party's presidency last December before he was forced to step down as South African president last month, a year before completing his second and final term. 

"There have always been clashes within ANC, and this reached a crescendo when workers, youth and women dropped Mbeki in favour of Zuma," he said. 

Prof Baregu said that the same fate could befall CCM which was facing similar challenges as its South African counterpart. 

"There are two ANCs�one that is pro-Freedom Charter and the other which embraces market economy. These two are in constant struggle. The same can be said of CCM which is ideologically split into one group which is pro-Arusha Declaration and socialism and the other which can be said to be pro-corruption. We can say that what has happened in South Africa will inevitably happen in Tanzania," he said. 

Prof Baregu said there was a struggle within CCM pitting traditionalists who wanted to maintain socialist attitudes and leadership ethics as preached by Mwalimu Nyerere and those who had deviated from the party's original ideals. 

But Mr Chiligati said ANC president Jacob Zuma had assured CCM that ANC would remain strong despite the turmoil it was going through. 

"Two weeks ago Zuma was here and we talked at length about the problems within his party, and he assured us that ANC would never split. 

"We voiced our concern about the conflict pitting factions aligned to Mbeki and Zuma and he told us that what was happening was part of democracy and that there was nothing to worry about," Mr Chiligati. 

South African President Kgalema Motlanthe has downplayed reports of a split within ANC, saying a splinter group could not pose a serious threat. 

Mr Lekota did not announce a new grouping yesterday as had earlier been predicted although he said the ANC was close to splitting. 

"This is probably the parting of the ways ... We hope that sense may still prevail in us... If not there's no going back," he said. 

He called for a congress of forces opposed to the ANC 's current policies and direction within four weeks but said he had not spoken to opposition parties. 

Flanked by another ANC dissident, former deputy defence minister Mluleki George, he added: "Logically it seems that this is the end of it." It was not clear how much support Mr Lekota, a former ANC chairman, had although he said hundreds of local party supporters had resigned and regional and provincial ANC branches were contemplating leaving. 

Most analysts played down the impact of any breakaway party unless it was joined by ANC heavyweights including Mr Mbeki. They said the party leadership might welcome the departure of dissidents to restore unity. 

Mr Mbeki was forced out last month and replaced by Motlanthe after a judge accused the former president of meddling in a graft case against Mr Zuma. Mr Motlanthe is expected to step down after elections expected around April 2009.

Mr Lekota said those opposing the present leadership of the party would need to be in some kind of organisation but said there must be consultation first on the way forward. He said he was living with an "uneasy sense that the African National Congress has started moving away from the cause that attracted us." 

Mr Mbeki sacked Mr Zuma from the deputy presidency in 2005 after Mf Zuma was implicated in a corruption trial. Mr Zuma was elected ANC leader on December 18, 2007 after defeating Mr Mbeki. 

Mr Robert Sobukwe formed the Pan-Africanist Congress of Azania (PAC) in 1959, breaking away from the ANC. The split took place as Mr Sobukwe pressed for South Africa to be returned to its indigenous people. He accused the ANC of being contaminated by non-African values. 

The South African Native National Congress was formed in January 1912 in Bloemfontein, in response to legislation denying political rights to the black population. It changed its name to the African National Congress in 1923. Its early leaders wanted a gradual extension of the electoral franchise on the British model. The party failed to moderate the race policies of successive white governments

SOURCE: The Citizen

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