INFIGHTING within the Pan Africanist Congress (PAC) is far from over as two factions in the party battle with each other over the legitimacy of this weekend’s congress.
The congress – convened by PAC president Letlapa Mphahlele – is taking place at Fort Hare University in the Eastern Cape and, according to Mphahlele, it is going to revive the organisation.
A turnaround strategy aiming at making the liberation struggle party a force to be reckoned with in the 2009 elections is also on the agenda.
A president – Mphahlele is the only candidate – and the national executive committee (NEC) will be elected.
But another faction, which is fighting Mphahlele under the banner of former PAC president Clarence Makwetu, refuses to recognise the Fort Hare congress, saying “real PAC members” will convene a “real congress” in Bloemfontein in August.
“This is an unfortunate situation, but on the second of August the ‘real’ PAC will meet and chart a way forward,” said Clarence Mayekiso, the spokesperson of the Makwetu group.
Mayekiso said 1000 delegates were expected to attend the Bloemfontein congress. “We will issue correspondence to this effect next week. We expect all provinces to attend. In our consultative conference in May we had seven provinces attending, we are going to publicise this one next week.”
Mayekiso said the “Fort Hare congress is illegitimate and its outcomes will be of no consequence”.
“The leadership that shall emerge from Fort Hare shall have no authority over the affairs of the PAC. The absence of veterans, the very founders of PAC, from Fort Hare is irrefutable proof that this conference is bogus. Whatever the cost, we shall defend the PAC,” Mayekiso said.
Mudini Maivha, spokesperson for Mphahlele, said if Makwetu’s group comprised “real” PAC members, it would recognise the Fort Hare meeting.
“If they were PAC, they would recognise the PAC and its processes, including this congress. The PAC is marching forward. It has found its footing and it’s marching Âforward,” Maivha said.
He added: “We take note of the strenuous efforts taken by agents provocateur to divert the PAC from representing the people of this country. What worries the moon when the dog barks?”
Last week, the Makwetu faction took Mphahlele to court in a bid to stop him convening the congress. But their application was dismissed on the grounds that it cited Mphahlele alone.
In his court papers, Mphahlele – who has been ruling the PAC by decree since September last year – argued that the group’s concern could be addressed by the PAC, not him.
Only 500 delegates are attending the Fort Hare congress. This figure is far less than the QwaQwa congress, which was attended by 2000 delegates.
Security, however, has been tightened at the Fort Hare congress to ensure that the conference is not disrupted by disgruntled members.
Elections for the “top five” and the new NEC will take place today.