||19 October 2008 07:00
Devi Sankaree Govender
|Show: ||Carte Blanche|
Olifantshoek Village in far northern Limpopo is dry, dusty and sweltering hot. It's hardly on the map and might seem an unlikely setting for major political announcements, but not for former Gauteng premier Mbazima Shilowa.
Mbazima Shilowa (Former Gauteng premier): "It's not question anymore of whether or not there will be political party, it's when a political party will be launched."
In an extensive interview with Carte Blanche on Friday, Shilowa confirmed that a breakaway group will go head-to-head with the ANC at the polls next year. The rebels' want to use a national convention on the 2nd of November as a platform for the formation of the new party, to be launched soon thereafter.
Mbazima: "Either just before Christmas or second week of January...."
Devi Sankaree Govender (Carte Blanche presenter): "There's been a new development just about every week since president Thabo Mbeki was axed. But it was the resignation of Gauteng premier Mbazima Shilowa which gave momentum to the concept of the new political party."
Shilowa has thrown his weight behind former minister of defence Mosiuoa Lekota and his erstwhile deputy Mluleki George, who announced last week that they might be parting ways with the ANC.
Mosiuoa Lekota (Former minister of defence): "We are serving today divorce papers."
Mbazima: "Is it treasonous in a democracy for someone to say, I've been a member of this party I think I've served it well, I agree with some of its principles, but I think I want to go out and carve my future in a new party existing or a new one in which I'm part of starting'?"
Olifantshoek is where Shilowa was born and raised. For years he campaigned for the ANC in this community. He came back here to explain to his family, chiefs and traditional councillors why he no longer supports the party he sold to them. Shilowa says his problems with the ANC go back to when former president Thabo Mbeki fired his then deputy, Jacob Zuma.
Mbazima: "I think from there onwards a parallel process outside ANC - as in website Friends of Jacob Zuma ... [The] insults we're talking now would have been happening since 2005."
Like Shilowa, Lekota had supported former president Thabo Mbeki in the leadership battle against Jacob Zuma. Lekota lost his position as ANC chairperson at the Polokwane conference in December as the Zuma camp took control. But this loss of power is not the cause of his revolt, he claims.
Mosiuoa: "I raised a number of issues before Polokwane. You might know I raised a question about the behaviour of these comrades."
Devi Sankaree Govender (Carte Blanche presenter): "You were seriously upset about the 100% Zulu-boy' T-shirt?"
Mosiuoa: "It's a very, very serious thing. Now the deputy president of the ANC at that time allowed people to go around in T-shirts with his face on it, proclaiming, you know this tribal pride thing and so on. Then they produced other T-shirts that said 100% JZ'. I'm not 100% JZ, you know what that is, that's what you'd find in places like North Korea... It's cult of person."
Jesse Duarte (ANC spokesperson): "Today they say the ANC is undemocratic, but that atmosphere when, quite honestly, Mr Lekota was the chair of the ANC."
ANC media head Jesse Duarte and fellow National Working Committee member Mathews Phosa met Lekota on Monday to discuss his concerns. The meeting was a failure.
Derek Watts (Carte Blanche presenter): "The meeting on Monday - looking across at Terror Lekota, you must have felt sad?"
Jesse: "I just felt I didn't know him any longer and I'm sorry I feel quite weepy about this because these are people that when you sit down very quietly and think about them, Terror is like a brother and suddenly he's no longer part of the family."
ANC Youth League leader Julius Malema has long been a bone of contention for Lekota - and he once again raised this in the meeting.
Mosiuoa: "Malema says in front of the president of the ANC, We are going to make JZ president of SA and if there's any obstacles, then we will kill for Zuma.' Where is the people shall govern'?
Jesse: "He harped on about Julius Malema and we explained to him over the last couple of months when an announcement has been made that we disagree with we deal with it as we have traditionally done - even in the time of Peter Mokaba - within the ANC."
Mosiuoa: "Not a word to rebuke this young man - so you wonder what kind of leadership is this, where is this leadership taking us? Our democracy is in very very serious danger. To allow our democracy to fall into hands of elements like that, is goodbye to our democracy and inheritance by those who died for our freedom."
Jesse: "I think our democracy is in fact very healthy - compared - could a constitution have withstood a recall of a president - we think our democracy is beginning to be very profoundly mature."
The question is: what is Thabo Mbeki's involvement with the new party?
Mbazima: "Thabo Mbeki is not involved with us. I had no discussion [and] I know Terror had no discussion with Thabo Mbeki on this matter."
But Lekota and Shilowa cite Mbeki's axing as a key factor in their decision.
Mbazima: "One of the mistakes is people think it's loyalty to Thabo Mbeki and never can be removed. It's more the issues around it and the manner in which it was done."
Jesse: "I think the anger appears to be on the face of it anger and loyalty for Mr Mbeki, I think it's more an I think it's an issue of a style of leadership that wishes to continue in the style they did before in which they wish to continue as they did before."
Derek: "Power hungry?"
Jesse: "I don't know if Terror Lekota is power hungry. I know he loves publicity."
Mosiuoa: "I'm not going to divert my attention... I want focus on the principles. Let's deal with those principles... and [when] the country is comfortable - then we can have time to discuss if I'm tall or short."
Devi: "The gloves are off. Comrades are turning on each other. There've been allegations of spying, intimidation and betrayal. Even Shilowa himself has been called a whisky-drinking egotist."
Mbazima: "Why can I be St Shilowa two weeks ago and then be devil incarnate simply for announcing I'm leaving ANC. When you scared, what do you do? You target people to attack them."
The ANC warned it would act decisively against dissidents. On Thursday, Secretary-General Gwede Mantashe announced that Lekota and George were suspended and would face disciplinary action.
Gwede Mantashe (ANC Secretary-General): "If you want to organise something else, get out of the ANC and organise something else. Don't try and remain in the ANC and try and organise something else."
Jesse: "This is going to be very robust election - we anticipate and are geared for it. Political parties do - all dirt will be dished. [But the] ANC does not and will never; we're not going to dig dirt and find fault with individuals... we're going to put our programme."
But with the breakaway group taking to the provinces and drumming up support, the ANC has mobilised its entire leadership in an attempt to limit mass resignations.
Mbazima: "I think the fact that people sending out smses, denigrating our names, that of terror to frighten business people who may want to fund us, says they have been rattled."
IMPORTANT DISCLAIMER:While every attempt has been made to ensure this transcript or summary is accurate, Carte Blanche or its agents cannot be held liable for any claims arising out of inaccuracies caused by human error or electronic fault. This transcript was typed from a transcription recording unit and not from an original script, so due to the possibility of mishearing and the difficulty, in some cases, of identifying individual speakers, errors cannot be ruled out.