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Shikota's convention marks a 'farewell to innocence'

By unknown | Nov 03, 2008 | COMMENTS [ 0 ]

Ido Lekota

Ido Lekota

"A farewell to innocence" is how some observers described the two-day convention organised by the group of ANC dissidents led by the party's former chairman Mosiuoa Lekota and former Gauteng premier Mbhazima Shilowa.

Dubbed Shikota, a combination of the two leaders' surnames, the movement hosted more than 4 000 delegates from provinces throughout SA, and most opposition parties in parliament.

The purpose of the meeting was mainly to discuss the strengthening of democracy in the country.

Yesterday the convention released a declaration of, among others, a commitment to uphold the supremacy of the Constitution and building a cohesive society based on values such as respect, integrity and ubuntu.

Individuals who attended the convention told Sowetan that the rebel movement was inevitable.

Eddie Sabie of the Ikwezi Institute said that the breakaway was "irreversible" after Shilowa announced that a new party would be formed to pursue principles the dissidents felt the current ANC leadership had abandoned.

The test for the new party, Sabie said, would now be how it would stand its ground in a political landscape in which the ANC had historically had a monopoly.

"The challenge now is to put the bolts and nuts in place so that this party can offer South African voters an alternative to the rot that has set in within the ANC," he said.

Political analyst Tinyiko Maluleke said the outcome of the convention marked the "farewell to innocence" that former United Democratic Front leader Allan Boesak wrote about in his book of the same title.

He said the party would challenge the electorate to consider a future outside the ANC, "which was very difficult for people to imagine". He said the question whether the new party would be a force to reckon with would be answered by the voters.

A former ANC Youth member from East London, Wayne Valtyn, was hopeful that the new party would allow the youth to voice their concerns.

"The ANC failed to talk to us," said Valtyn.

A former employee in Thabo Mbeki's presidency said he predicted that without the new party at least 30 percent of voters would stay away in the next election.

"Now they have an opportunity to vote for an alternative to what has always made them unhappy."

Former ANC member and businessman Sandile Mfolozi said the formation of a new party was long overdue. He said the new party should adopt social democratic principles with a focus on the poor and the working people of South Africa.

To achieve that, said Mfolozi, the party's leadership must not be dominated by the elite. He also said it was important to have leaders such as Willie Madisha and Phillip Dexter who have a left-leaning political outlook.

Political analyst Steve Friedman agrees that the new party would challenge voters to think beyond the ANC,when it comes to voting.

He warned against forming a broad church movement such as the ANC since the ANC had entrenched itself in that political space.


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