By Richard Thompson and Dirk van Zyl

The African National Congress (ANC) on Friday revealed it wants to change the national constitution to allow MPs, provincial legislators and local councillors to move from one party to another without losing their seats - and their salaries.

In a media statement on Friday, ANC national chairman Mosiuoa Lekota - also the minister of defence - said: "The ANC has resolved to effect legislation so as to make it possible in the short term for elected representatives at national, provincial and local spheres of government to realign their political loyalties without forfeiting their seats. This is to be implemented starting in the coming week."

This becomes crucial in the light of the New National Party's decision to break up its alliance with the Democratic Party announced on Friday night.

The resolution passed by the NNP's federal council specifically mentions "the establishment of co-operative governance in all three spheres of government."

A senior member of the NNP in the Western Cape - speaking on condition of confidentiality - said that the party would form a coalition government with the ANC in the Western Cape, and he knew of 13 Cape Town unicity councillors elected under the DA banner who would defect to the ANC.

"If Tony Leon wants to play opposition politics, let him play opposition politics." - Sapa