As radio reports in South Africa started to rumour the formation of a breakaway party by ANC dissidents led by former defence minister Mosiuoa ‘Terror’ Lekota (pictured), ANC president Jacob Zuma warned that such a party will not live long. WORDS: Piet van Niekerk

Talk Radio 702 said on Wednesday the announcement will be made later during the day. It said officials and leaders loyal to former president Thabo Mbeki were in talks and are ready to announce the formation of a new party.
It said it would mark the biggest political upheaval in the history of the ANC and is the culmination of the political struggle between Zuma and Mbeki who fired Zuma as deputy president when he was implicated in South Africa’s arms deal corruption scandal.

But Zuma told black business leaders in Sandton that if a new party was formed, it will not see the life of day.

The South African Press Association (Sapa) reported Zuma said: “What kind of alternative policies could you put across alternate to the ANC, that would challenge the ANC? I don’t think so, but I’m not saying it can’t happen.

He said most of the rumours where nothing more than “speculation”. But if a split happens, “I don’t think it would have a very long life span, I would be surprised. You can’t believe in the ANC and its policies so deeply, and then form an organisation that repeats the same policies, that would be funny.

“If it happens it could be the anger and die down very quickly. When people are shocked, angry, quickly reacting, you could say ‘I better go away’,” Zuma said.

Political analysts warned that any split will create political uncertainty and influence international investments.

Speculation has been growing about a possible split, despite new president Kgalema Motlanthe insisting there is no truth to the rumours. It has even been suggested that Mbeki would lead the ANC’s election campaign.

While welcoming a possible ANC split during a visit to London last week, opposition Democratic Alliance leader Helen Zille warned that the reality is that any new party would battle to win voters and find funding in the short time ahead of an election due in April next year.

She did however say that the split would herald the “realignment of South African politics. “It will be a reconfiguration of political parties to reflect the debate on the great challenges of the future, rather than the obsolete racial outbidding of the past,” she told TNT.