When the centre will not hold

One of the outstanding attributes the African National Congress has proficiently displayed as a liberation movement has been its ability to hold the core together in the face of division.

One of the outstanding attributes the African National Congress has proficiently displayed as a liberation movement has been its ability to hold the core together in the face of division.

What is now happening is that the party is facing a crisis the likes of which it has not confronted since coming into power in 1994.

What happened at the weekend national executive committee meetings - with the body divided between supporters of President Thabo Mbeki and those supporting ANC deputy president Jacob Zuma - is an indication of how the centre is failing to provide leadership regarding the party's succession debate.

Despite the ANC leadership's denial, the insistence on having Mbeki and Zuma as contenders to the ANC's throne could see the ANC coming out of its national conference as divided as ever. A situation that will emasculate whichever leadership is voted into power.

There are some members of the ANC who are prepared to explore "the third way" - having both Mbeki and Zuma withdraw from the race and create an opportunity for a compromise candidate that would unite the party.

This is because the question of who becomes the next leader of the ANC and of the country is not a party political issue but a matter of national concern.

X