Friday, October 31, 2008

South African National Convention This Weekend in Sandton

Dialogue, not disruption, this weekend

Oct 31 2008 06:00

The national convention called by Mbhazima Shilowa and Mosiuoa Lekota will include representation from all nine provinces and from the leaders of the main opposition parties, the Democratic Alliance, the United Democratic Movement and the Independent Democrats, when it starts on Saturday.

Unexpectedly, the South African National Civic Organisation (Sanco), one of the ANC's allies, also says it will attend both the indaba at the Sandton Convention Centre and the launch of a new party, if there is one.

Organisers say they expect 4 000 delegates from political parties, NGOs, sports bodies and business people at the weekend-long brainstorming session.

"Shikota" has been selling the meetings as a platform to find ways of ensuring that democracy is protected.

Prominent figures who will attend include Unisa vice-chancellor Barney Pityana, former intelligence minister Ronnie Kasrils, former public service minister Geraldine Fraser-Moleketi and her husband, former deputy finance minister Jabu Moleketi, former minister in the presidency Essop Pahad and former deputy minister of foreign affairs Aziz Pahad.

The Western Cape, North West, Free State, Northern Cape and Eastern Cape are expected to send 500 delegates each, while 300 each will come from Limpopo, Gauteng and Mpumalanga. KwaZulu-Natal, a Jacob Zuma stronghold, is expected to bring 200 delegates.

Sanco has been allocated between 150 and 200 delegates representing all provinces. Gauteng chairperson Siphiwe Thusi said the organisation hoped that the convention's decisions would unite delegates over urgent issues such as poverty and unemployment.

Thusi said that if it was decided to launch a new political party Sanco would work with it as long it entrenched democratic values.

DA leader Helen Zille said she expected the meeting to provide a platform for debate on issues such as the Constitution, the separation of party and state, equality before the law, the direct election of the president, premiers and mayors and the funding of political parties.

She said Shilowa has assured her that the convention is not about launching a new political party. "Based on this assurance the DA has decided to send a delegation. This could be a crucial discussion for the future of South Africa."

The breakaway faction of the Pan Africanist Congress, led by Thami ka-Plaatjie, has turned down an invitation to attend, saying the convention involves the same ANC and will offer nothing new.

Ka-Plaatjie said his group viewed the gathering as "a desperate ganging-up of the elite against the poor underclass, who are seeking to claim their voice and influence in the ANC".

The United Democratic Movement, initially reluctant to attend, has now decided to do so and to make an input in the form of an "advisory" paper to be presented by its leader, Bantu Holomisa. Holomisa said he had changed his mind after Shilowa and Lekota assured him the convention was not meant for disgruntled ANC members only. "I still maintain that ANC people need to hammer out their own problems and should be given space to do that."

The organisers have moved to counter disruptions by choosing the Sandton Convention Centre as a venue. "You can immediately work with the Johannesburg metro [police] and the police," said Shilowa. "The centre also has its own private security."

If disruptions occurred, they would reflect on the organisations behind them, he added.

The Shikota meetings disrupted in the name of the ANC in Orange Farm in Gauteng and Gugulethu last week continued under police guard.

One of the leaders of the disrupters in Orange Farm said they were organised by the ANCYL. Siphiwe Mshayisa, who identified himself as deputy chairperson of the ANC's Madibawenkomo branch in Orange Farm's ward two, said the protesters wanted to prevent Shikota "spreading lies".

The ANC Youth League, through its spokesperson Floyd Shivambu, denied any knowledge of the disruptions. The league was "against all disruptions of meetings of any nature and is democratically tolerant of anyone who organises peacefully, but detests any formation founded on lies and distortion of the ANC", Shivambu said.

The ANC and the Young Communist League also pledged this week to allow Shikota and any other party to organise without threats of disruption.

Source: Mail & Guardian Online
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Talking the talk

Oct 31 2008 06:00

It began in a bakery. Mbhazima Shilowa tells
Mandy Rossouw and Mmanaledi Mataboge about his kickstart plans for a new party

Why a convention? Why not start a new political party from the beginning?
It's important to have a dialogue of South Africans across the political divide, to see if we have a shared perspective. That doesn't mean it's an election platform that will become the party's policies. But it's important to say we believe in the rule of law and equality before the law; that we're going to ensure these are protected.

All political parties say they believe in job creation; the difference is what are you going to do to ensure job creation? At the convention a different kind of person will be participating. Because you have a broad spectrum of people you can have a discussion about founding principles and policies. We'll set up a new website after the convention. I don't want it to be simply ANC mark 2 even in leadership and membership, I want it to be much broader. It will give South Africans an opportunity to dialogue.

[United Democratic Movement leader] Bantu Holomisa has been consistent in calling for a convention. [Former] president Mbeki said Parliament should take the call by Bantu seriously. Patricia de Lille has been calling for a convention on crime. Conventions for South Africans to dialogue are very important.

Why do so many people support the movement while not declaring themselves publicly?
What would it achieve? The ANC is saying: 'Look, this is a party of former NEC members,' while we have a broad section of new people coming in this direction. I don't want to give credence to the notion that this party is just the old NEC. I don't want people to come out; I want them to do work. They will emerge at the right time. We want to project a modern party suited to the situation that can talk to South Africans. People are asking when is the big bang, but there isn't one.

Some in the ANC say the idea of a new party predates the recalling of Mbeki.
It's very easy to say this decision has been long in the making and people have been meeting. Let them produce the facts. I'm sure people must have met to say this is what is happening in Limpopo -- how can we respond? Where you had the things [former ANC Western Cape secretary] Mblulelo [Ncedana] and others felt were happening, they would meet. But they wouldn't have met to discuss the formation of a new party.

Some of us don't feel at home and feel that we need to branch out. When Terror was on radio I said I'll approach him. Because you say you have served divorce papers, can I take custody? I met Terror; we drove to Fournos in Fourways. He explained why it was important that people should not resign. I said, "Let me apply my mind to it."

Then I met the ANC leadership in the province and said I've come to a determination that I was going to resign and that I may look at a new [political] home.

When will the new name be decided?
Once the discussions in the provinces reveal a new name. Also I would prefer that we reveal the new name once we've submitted the registration to the IEC. I had to fend off a lot of cyber-squatters so I'm very guarded about this.

How important is trade union support for the new movement?
First you need the support and participation of the union movement in any convention that seeks to take stock of where we are in terms of implementing our Constitution, in trying to develop a shared perspective among South Africans. You don't need your own labour federation for workers to vote for you.

It's less about who the unions politically support; it's more about how we ensure there are no anti-democratic tendencies, like the statement of the Chemical Workers' Union that said: "We will monitor our members to ensure they don't attend the meetings of Lekota and Shilowa."

Unions have no business monitoring the political movements of their members. They have the business of organising workers to mobilise them around social and economic issues. Those members have a democratic right enshrined in the Constitution to belong to the political party of their choice, which might not be the one the federation attends. There are Cosatu members of the IFP and UDM.

Former NP leader Inus Aucamp has declared his support for you. What do you make of this?
We want to put together a non-racial movement, so yes, some of our support will come from white members and we will go out of our way to work to ensure that as many white people as possible support our movement. It's very important because you don't only want to replicate the ANC. You may say that from a voting perspective whites are a minority, but we are breaking new ground in terms of membership.

Secondly, we want to ensure that we break new ground among professionals, young and black. Young people feel disengaged; we want to ensure we reach them. I can only marvel at what has been happening -- we've received over 400 offers of volunteers. These are not your ordinary unemployed men and women; they are young professionals, black and white, who say we want to come and man your IT system. I want them to become founder members of the organisation.

Source: Mail & Guardian Online
Web Address:

ANC court bid on convention name postponed


The Pretoria High Court has postponed an African National Congress (ANC) bid for an urgent court interdict to stop the use of the name "South African National Convention [SANC]", the party said on Friday.

It said the court did not make a finding on the merits of the application brought on Friday afternoon, and postponed the matter to Thursday next week.

"The judge indicated that the Independent Electoral Commission should be joined in the case. Should a new party be formed at this weekend's convention, they too should be joined," the ANC said in a statement.

"The judge nevertheless commented that the applicant, the ANC, may well have grounds for concern over the possible use of such a name by the respondents."

Mbhazima Shilowa, co-organiser of the national convention by an ANC breakaway group, earlier told reporters in Johannesburg the ANC was trying to stop the event.

"They are interdicting [so] that we can't go ahead with the national convention because they say we can't use their name," said Shilowa as delegates registered ahead of Saturday's convention in Sandton.

However, when approached for comment, the ANC said it was only applying to stop the use of the name and did not want to stop the convention.

"The interdict is only against the name," said ANC spokesperson Jessie Duarte.

"The ANC is not vindictive," she said, adding that the organisers were being mischievous.

Shilowa said he, former ANC chairperson Mosiuoa Lekota -- who resigned from the party on Friday -- and former deputy defence minister Mluleki George received simultaneous SMS messages early on Friday afternoon informing them of the application to the Pretoria High Court at 3.30pm.

They had just been told that Lyndall Shope, Director General in the Communications Department, had resigned from the ANC national executive committee and the party when they received the news.

They rushed around to find the court papers and confirmed this.

During the question-and-answer session, Shilowa was told that the ANC denied trying to stop the convention.

"I think you can ask them for the court papers. It is a matter of public record," he replied.

Shilowa said the convention organisers regarded the application as an abuse of the courts and questioned why the application was made the day before the conference.

He said it had only been media speculation that the splinter group intended using the name SANC if they registered as a political party. They had never said so themselves.

He said that had they registered it with the IEC, that would be the correct body to approach and there was a 21-day period in which to do so.

Challenging the name was "laughable", as the South African Nursing Council could also enter the fray.

Asked if he would abide by the court's decision, Shilowa said it would not be right to ignore the courts, given that respect for the rule of law would be on the agenda over the weekend.

The ANC expressed satisfaction with the outcome of its urgent application.

"The ANC is satisfied with this outcome. By bringing this application, the ANC has asserted its legal rights and made the important point that its trademark, name and identity cannot be appropriated to serve other people's political aspirations."

The party said the application "specifically refers to the names South Africa National Congress and/or South Africa National Convention and/or SANC".

"Claims that the ANC has brought an application to prevent the holding of a national convention are untrue and completely without any basis in fact," the ANC said.

Meanwhile, delegates continued arriving in buses to register for the convention at the Sandton Convention Centre.

The hall to be used will host a wine exhibition on Friday evening and will then be transformed overnight into seating for about 4 500 delegates.

Delegates who had not registered would not be let in as there was no room, organisers said. -- Sapa

Source: Mail & Guardian Online
Web Address:

ANC to stop convention's name

The ANC has applied for an urgent court interdict to stop the name, the SA National Convention, being used by the ANC breakaway movement, dissidents said on Friday.

"They are interdicting that we can't go ahead with the National Convention because they say we can't use their name," former Gauteng premier Mbhazima Shilowa said on Friday.

Shilowa, former ANC chairperson Terror Lekota and former deputy defence minister Mluleki George received simultaneous SMS messages informing them of this, he said at a news briefing at Sandton ahead of this weekend's convention.

However, ANC spokesperson Jessie Duarte said on Friday it was not true that the ANC wanted to stop the convention. It just objected to the name the organisers were using.

In a statement, she said: "The ANC has lodged an urgent High Court application to prevent the use of names or designations that may be confusingly similar to the name and trademark of the ANC.

"The application specifically refers to the names South Africa National Congress and/or South Africa National Convention and/or SANC."

Duarte said the application had been brought against Shilowa, Lekota and George.

"Claims that the ANC has brought an application to prevent the holding of a national convention are untrue and completely without any basis in fact," she said. - Sapa

Published on the Web by IOL on 2008-10-31 18:09:52

Lekota backs free-market policies

Oct 31 2008 16:44

South Africa will stand a better chance of ending poverty if the country maintains free-market policies and makes itself attractive to foreign investors, Mosiuoa Lekota said on Friday.

Lekota, a former defence minister who said on Friday he resigned from the African National Congress, leads a group of ruling-party defectors who will meet over the weekend to discuss forming a new party ahead of elections due next year.

"The general thrust I have always been comfortable with is the approach we have taken with inflation targeting," he told Reuters in an interview.

"Making sure that we create the necessary stability and making it easy for foreign investors to come in, because with that you have capacity to create increased employment."

The ANC -- which has governed the country with an overwhelming majority since the end of apartheid -- faces its biggest crisis since 1994 as it struggles to keep party unity and ward off further defections.

Divisions in the ANC intensified after the ANC sacked Thabo Mbeki as president last month, a move that was initiated and supported by its labour and communists allies but led to resignations of Mbeki supporters.

The Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) and the South African Communist Party (SACP) abhorred Mbeki's market friendly policies and helped elect Jacob Zuma to the party's top post last December, hoping to have a sympathetic ear for their pro-poor policies.

Lekota said the SACP was now imposing its will on the ANC and its policies would sink the country.

Mbeki succeeded Nelson Mandela as president in 1999 and is credited with spurring nearly a decade of growth in Africa's richest economy. Lekota was among the ministers who resigned in loyalty to Mbeki.

Welfare spending

The desire to keep consumer inflation between 3% and 6% has seen the central bank raise interest rates by five percentage points in the past two years, to Cosatu's and the SACP's chagrin. But this policy has been welcomed by investors.

The SACP and Cosatu have called for increased spending on welfare, the end of inflation targeting and expanding the central bank's mandate to include job creation. Despite these calls, Zuma assured investors last week policy would not change.

The SACP and Cosatu message has resonated with the poor across the country and many who identify with Zuma's humble background have disrupted Lekota's meetings.

Analysts have cited political uncertainty ahead of next year's elections as one of the risks for investors.

Lekota said market-friendly policies would help end poverty and South Africa was already spending more than enough on welfare.

"You need to spread your resources in such a way that while you address the immediate needs of the people, you must expand your investment base so that they generate more resources that come into the fiscus [basket of funds]."

Lekota said there would be more than 4 000 delegates at the weekend's meeting from across the country and one of the topics on the agenda would be South Africa's electoral system.

"It's important that we review, revise and change the electoral system so that instead of people voting for a party in order for it decide who is the mayor of the town, they [the people] should decide." -- Reuters

Source: Mail & Guardian Online
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1 comment:

Anonymous said...

"Righteousness exalteth a nation: but sin is a reproach to any people."(Proverbs 14:34)

Whether one is religious or not, the proverb describes a fundamental truth in the life of the world. Any nation departing from it will not prosper. And when a ruling power disregards this truth, its mandate from heaven has expired and its days of power are numbered. The ANC was glorious in its heyday but in recent years has completely 'lost the plot'. It has demonstrated a complete disregard for all propriety, the state or quality of conforming to conventionally accepted standards of behavior or morals.

Its days of power are certainly on the wane and a new power will arise to take its place. I trust that the new party will be founded firmly on such principles, held to by members individually and by the part as a whole.

Jessop in Cape Town.