The move by former defence minister Mosiuoa Lekota and his comrades to break away from the ANC has been lauded as being good for democracy.

The move by former defence minister Mosiuoa Lekota and his comrades to break away from the ANC has been lauded as being good for democracy.

Yesterday Lekota said the party would contest next year's elections.

When asked what chance the party would stand against the ANC, Lekota said: "I do not think that the majority of the voters will vote for an organisation that undermines the rule of law.

"The majority will go to the polls and vote for a party that says equality before the law for all."

Lekota's argument is that the ANC, under the leadership of Jacob Zuma, has veered from the principles that attracted people to it.

These include democracy, putting national interests before those of an individual and respect for institutions and agencies of governance like the judiciary.

The inference is that the new party will uphold these principles and so attract votes away from the ANC.

Unfortunately Lekota and his comrades will have to offer the electorate more than that.

They must, for example, prove that their disgruntlement goes beyond the notion that "the new leadership is marginalising those who expressed a different preference during the Polokwane leadership contest".

They must also show that their contest is not one waged by individuals who are failing to deal with the defeat they suffered in Polokwane.

The public is aware that Lekota and the other former cabinet ministers kept quiet when, under former president Thabo Mbeki's leadership, the ANC-led government adopted HIV-Aids policies based on denialism.

They also did not object when Mbeki - who was also ANC president - fired deputy minister Nozizwe Madlala-Routledge for publicly disclosing the maladministration of the health service in Eastern Cape.

The public could also find it rich for Lekota to talk of suppression of dissent, given his threat to unleash the army on Khutsong during protests against incorporation into North West.

The founders of the new party also have to come up with policies to improve the lot of the majority.

Internal democracy, respect for the rule of law and the fight against tribalism are indeed tenets of a democratic society. But for the hungry and unemployed these are just lofty ideas.

What they want to hear is what any party that seeks to take on the ANC has to offer.

Zuma raised this question on Tuesday when asked for his opinion about reports that disgruntled ANC members wanted to form a breakaway party.

Zuma was dismissive of the idea, saying that a party "made up of individuals who joined the ANC because they believed in its policies would find it difficult to come up with alternative policies".

This, unfortunately, is the crux of the new party's successful existence.

The party must prove to the voters that it will improve the lot of the majority of South Africans - by coming up with policies that will ensure they get opportunities to improve their lives.

Failure to do so would mean that the whole thing was simply about a change of guard under the guise of enhancing democracy.