S. Africa's Ruling Party Splits

Historic convention heralds birth of new party
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 3, 2008 9:22 AM CST
Delegates sing and dance at the Sandton Convention Center in Johannesburg Sunday, Nov. 2, 2008.   (AP Photo/Denis Farrell)
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(Newser) – The African National Congress has run South Africa essentially unchallenged since the fall of apartheid, but that may have changed forever this weekend as 6,400 delegates gathered to celebrate the birth of a new opposition party. A chunk of lawmakers loyal to Thabo Mbeki is breaking way from the ANC, forming a party with the potential to break the stranglehold, the New York Times reports.

It’s unclear how many will join the new party—one report has 100 sitting lawmakers jumping ship—but South African media covered the convention like a major historical event, flashing headlines like “Hungry for change.” Opposition parties of all stripes came onstage to bash the ruling clan, hinting at a potential anti-ANC coalition. But ANC President Jacob Zuma says he’s unconcerned. “The wealthy gathered yesterday at their fancy convention,” he scoffed. “There’s not much they said.”