The founder of the Pan Africanist Congress, Robert Mangaliso Sobukwe. Picture: MIKE MZILENI
The founder of the Pan Africanist Congress, Robert Mangaliso Sobukwe. Picture: MIKE MZILENI

Factional infighting in the Pan Africanist Congress of Azania (PAC) has spurred interim party leader Narius Moloto to dissolve the party’s structures.

This  includes the national, provincial and regional executive committees, who will now be run by administrators comprising leaders from the two dominant factions.

The decision follows the PAC’s poor showing in the May 8 election, in which it received a paltry 0.19%, enabling it to narrowly retain its only seat in the National Assembly. In the 2004 election, the party received 0.73%, which decreased to 0.27% in 2009 and further down to 0.21% in 2014.

However, Moloto said the election results had nothing to do with his shock decision to dissolve the party structures at the weekend.

The PAC has been rocked by infighting between a faction of the national leadership led by Moloto, which was elected at a congress in Mpumalanga in December 2017, and the one elected during a congress in Kimberley in December 2018, led by Mzwanele Nyontso.

The factions abandoned a court battle and presented a united front in the lead-up to the May 8 elections, rallying behind Moloto as interim party leader as his face was already on campaign posters for the elections.

These are the latest fractures in the historic party that was formed in Soweto, Johannesburg, on April 6 1959, by late struggle stalwart Robert Sobukwe as a break away from the ANC. The PAC was central in organising protests on March 21, 1960, for the abolition of the pass laws. Sixty-nine people were massacred by apartheid-era police on that day in Sharpeville. 

“The reasons I dissolved the structures is because they can’t agree on the way forward regarding the national conference in August,” Moloto said. 

The structures were arguing over “petty things” such as the party’s audited financial statements, and the list of members in good standing, among others, he said.

“They are putting that conference in danger,” he said. According to Moloto, the national conference to elect the party’s new leadership will be held in Marble Hall in Limpopo, in August.

However, PAC general secretary Apa Pooe said the party's national executive committee (NEC) resolved at a meeting in May that it would hold its national congress in Bloemfontein, and not in Marble Hall.

Pooe said the NEC would meet after the funeral of Sobuke's son, Dinilesizwe Sobukwe, at Graaff-Reinet in the Eastern Cape on Saturday.

“Moloto has no powers to unilaterally evoke the decree to suspend the party structures. All the structures remain pending the outcome of the NEC meeting.”

Political analyst Dr Somadoda Fikeni said the prospects of the PAC emerging united from its upcoming national congress were dim.

“The main problem has always been leadership infighting. Its main ideological platform of land has been taken by other role-players,” Fikeni said.

One of the PAC’s problems has been that it has never read the signs during SA’s political transition, Fikeni said. “They were rigidly stuck in the rhetoric of liberation politics.”

mkentanel@businesslive.co.za