Azapo, Sopa merge ahead of polls
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Johannesburg - Fifteen years after splitting because of disagreements over the political direction of the Azanian People’s Organisation, Azapo and the Socialist Party of Azania (Sopa) are merging “to rescue South Africa from the current political morass”.
Delegations led by Azapo president Jake Dikobo and Sopa leader Lybon Mabasa were expected to meet on Thursday in Joburg to formalise the merger.
Speaking to The Star on Wednesday, the two Black Consciousness movements said they hoped to provide an alternative political home for South Africans frustrated with the current state of affairs in the country, in particular corruption.
A group of Azapo leaders, led by Mabasa and former academic Itumeleng Mosala, formed Sopa in 1998 after clashing with their rivals over policies.
Formed in 1978, Azapo espoused the philosophy and political values championed by former anti-apartheid stalwart Steve Biko.
On Wednesday, Mabasa said they had decided to unite after realising that the disunity that had bedevilled the Black Consciousness Movement was bad and had cost the movement its “central place” in the country’s politics.
He denied that infighting, leadership battles and the failure to adjust to the new dispensation were Azapo and Sopa’s downfall, saying “I don’t believe that”.
Nelvis Qekema, an Azapo member of the task team that negotiated the merger, said secret talks resumed last year after twice breaking down in 2004 and 2007.
He said they hoped to build a political alternative for South Africans.
Reacting to the merger, former Azapo president Mosibudi Mangena said: “I support it wholeheartedly and hope they succeed this time.”
Qekema and Mabasa would not be drawn into discussing the new organisation’s prospects in next year’s elections.
Since 1994 Azapo has won just one parliamentary seat.
Political analyst Professor Lesiba Teffo said the new organisation had very little prospect of electoral success because South Africans had no appetite for smaller parties, be it former liberation movements or newly formed ones.
He said Azapo and Sopa would make an impact if they transformed into a civic movement.