Zuma defends unity of ANC

By Sipho Khumalo Time of article published Oct 7, 2008

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ANC President Jacob Zuma has - in the face of strong indications of a possible split within his party - declared that the ANC will prove that there was no alternative to it.

Writing in the ANC online letter, Zuma declared: "We at Luthuli House (the ANC's headquarters) will now work flat-out to renew and build the organisation, and prepare for an overwhelming victory in the 2009 elections so that we can improve on our already exceptional record of service provision. We are going to focus all our energies on getting the ANC ready for elections. We will prove that there is no alternative to the ANC. Nobody has a better programme than the ANC for the social and economic transformation of this country," he said.

Zuma wrote his letter amid growing reports of a possible splinter party to be established by senior ANC leaders, angry about former president Thabo Mbeki being fired.

This triggered the resignation of several cabinet ministers, including former defence minister Mosioua Lekota and Gauteng premier Mbazima Shilowa, as the ANC faced its fiercest revolt since its unbanning in 1990.

Last week Lekota criticised the party, suggesting that the ANC leadership elected at the Polokwane conference last year had led the organisation away from its policies moulded around the Freedom Charter.

This triggered an angry reaction from the ANC. Transport minister Jeff Radebe hit back at Lekota, saying that the ANC was a voluntary organisation and that those who could no longer subject themselves to the discipline of the party could leave voluntarily.

The clash heightened fears that the ANC was facing a possible split, with reports of clandestine meetings being held to plan a new party.

In his online letter, Zuma did not directly address the possible split, but urged the ANC to focus on the "urgent and important" obligation to contest next year's elections as a united and solid force. "We need to be of one mind and purpose. We need to be clear about our strategic objectives in relation to our election strategy," he said.

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