Sat Oct 22 10:58:22 SAST 2016

APC formed because of 'rigidity' within party

By unknown | Sep 07, 2007 | COMMENTS [ 0 ]

Eric Naki

Eric Naki

Two fine minds of the Pan Africanist Congress met in "figurative exile" in Maputo last May, sat down and ordered cups of tea to talk about the future of Pan-Africanism.

They scheduled the tea break to discuss issues regarding public financial accountability in Africa, but following their instincts they talked about where Pan-Africanist ideology was headed under the auspices of the PAC.

Ironically, it was in the same place South African exiles plotted the demise of apartheid that the two strategised about the demise of the PAC.

Themba Godi and Zingisa Mkabile, as heads of all-important select committees on public accounts (Scopa) in the national assembly and Eastern Cape legislature respectively, attended an international Scopa summit in Maputo, but their discussions turned to breaking away from the PAC.

Launched in a tranquil and isolated Willow Park conference centre, situated in a semi-rural environment on the East Rand, watched by happily singing birds and grazing cows and slow-flowing ponds, the APC this week announced its aims.

It wants to revive Pan-Africanism which it says is dead under the dying PAC. It wants to stand as the first alternative to the ruling ANC and to have the ideals of Robert Mangaliso Sobukwe, the PAC founding president, realised.

Does the birth of the APC signal the end of the PAC? As some often say the PAC is long dead, but has only yet to be buried. Could it be that this new party is an undertaker to conduct this pauper's burial?

The ANC, in a booklet published in 1998, once asked an interesting question: "Is the PAC a viable alternative or a spare tyre?"

Today that could easily be answered. The PAC is not only a spare tyre, but a burst tyre.

The organisation that Sobukwe proudly founded is a shadow of its former self. It resembles a car driving on its rims.

At the time, the ANC said: "Nearly forty years later, the PAC is still rattling away in the boot of South African history. It is the rattling of a flat spare tyre."

Close to ten years after the ANC's insightful observation, the PAC is still divided.

Godi said the PAC has been a dream perpetually deferred. While the enthusiasm and honesty of its founders could not be doubted, the reality is that outside of the brief interlude of Sobukwe, Nyathi Pokela and Zephania Mothopeng, the organisation has had a perpetual leadership crisis.

"The PAC does not take into account the balance of forces internationally, continentally and regionally, and see how they impact on Pan-Africanism and how the ideology provides answers to these new challenges," said Godi.

When they raised a debate within the party on these issues, they were labelled as "sell-outs", "liberals", "ANC members" and even "capitalists".

"I went through a lot of personal abuse that I want to take the PAC to the ANC. So we felt that instead of staying in the PAC and fighting one another, why don't we just pull out so that history can prove whether we were correct or not," he said.

It was after trying to bring changes from within the PAC that they gave up and decided to form the APC.

"These PAC activists came to the conclusion that it would serve the course of Pan-Africanism better if, instead of remaining in the PAC that is at war with itself, they rather have the courage of their convictions to set up an organisation that will preserve and advance the course of Pan-Africanism and the legacy of Sobukwe, Pokela, David Sibeko, Sabelo Phama and the rest of the leaders.

He criticised the leadership as rigid in its approach, as it premises the PAC on the founding lines of 1959 while in the 21st century.

Under party president Letlapa Mphahlele, as usual, it was the same sad situation, a "promising start that ends in a relapse into the old PAC that had no direction, but much infighting".

"Our movement out of the PAC is obviously a vote of no-confidence in [Mphahlele's] leadership. I think what is lacking in Letlapa's leadership is a collective approach. Letlapa consults nobody, believes and listens to nobody except his closest allies. That is his fundamental mistake and weakness," said Godi.

lSee commentary on Page 18


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