At a briefing hosted by Radio 702 this morning, Mosiuoa Lekota announced the imminent formation of a convention that in the coming weeks would “determine how to proceed, to defend democracy in this country.” He indicated that it would be likely that this new movement would be contesting the 2009 general election, describing the move as “serving divorce papers” to the ANC.
In his address, he critcised the recent militancy displayed by Malema and other hotheads, as well as the resurgence of tribalism at Polokwane in December.
The briefing’s transcript, from Times editor Ray Hartley’s blog, is provided below:
“The ANC started veering away from the course that attracted us to the ranks of its members.
“I was aware that more than 800 members of the ANC – activists with whom I’d worked for many years – had left the ANC in Port Elizabeth to join the UDM. Several hundred had crossed over to the ID. I was quite aware of the depth of disatisfaction from the ranks of the ANC who were now considering seriously leaving the ranks of the ANC.
“Very sadly, the present leadership of the ANC avoided dealing with the principles I raised in this letter and instead mandated comrade Jeff Radebe to draft a tirade attacking me.
“As I sit here I am yet to hear from the secretary general. Nothing about the issues of principle that I raised in the letter. Even as that happened, I was aware that various regions and even provinces … were contemplating leaving the ANC. I said we cannot leave the ANC, we are the ANC because we are committed to the principles of the ANC.
“The ANC is not the name ANC, it is its policies .. it is the democracy in the organisation.
“T-Shirts are printed with tribalist slogans decorated with the face of some very senior members of the ANC. No condemnation.
“Even on the floor of conference at Polokwane, these T-Shirts were displayed and no action was taken. Songs which advocate violence … when we are supposed to promote peace and development. Leaders of the ANC stand on public platforms singing songs that promote violence. Nothing is done, instead there is dancing to these songs which have become irrelevant.
“I amongst others became a pariah at the conference and heroes were those who advocated tribalism and these strange songs.
“Since Polokwane we have seen an even more surprising phenomenon.
“As if the president of South Africa is hereditary.
“The people must be free to choose what is in their interests. To therefore say we will kill for so-and-so … where is the people shall govern? Where is the right of the people of South Africa to vote and choose who they want in the leadership.
“Now we are saying, no, in a particular case – of the state vs the president of the ANC – there must be a political solution. What has happened to the clause in the freedom charter: All shall be equal before the law.
“Who is deviating from the Freedom Charter? Why did we spend years and years of suffering in exile and in jail for this clause?
“We have put in place institutions of government … now there is a tirade of attacks on the courts and the judges. And there is even the demand that we must defend verdicts which suit certain individuals. If the judges are described as counter-revolutionaries … where is the comfort for the citizens of this country.
“I have said to my comrades, we are not the only ones in the ANC who want to see genuine, firm, established democracy. There are many others outside the ranks of the ANC.
“Don’t leave the ANC. Let’s open a discussion with the ANC rank and file.
“We must stand up against this deviation, this arrogance. Let the people of South Africa decide whether they want the Malema’s of this world or whether they want sober leadership.
“In the coming weeks we will consult … to call a national convention to determine how to proceed, to defend democracy in this country.
“We paid the price for these principles. We paid the price for these princples. It would be a betrayal on our part not to rise to defend the legacy.”
Read Times’ journalist Matt Du Plessis’s take on it here.