For more than three decades, former ANC president Oliver Tambo’s exemplary leadership held the organisation’s “broad church” together in exile during the most difficult times of its 112-year history. But over the next three decades, epic leadership failures resulted in three breakaways from the party — by COPE in 2008, the EFF in 2013 and uMkhonto weSizwe (MK) in 2023.

In 2009, COPE received 1.3-million votes, but the ANC still got 65.9% of the votes due to a strong showing from KwaZulu-Natal, as former premier Zweli Mkhize reminded me. COPE eventually imploded and many of its members rejoined the ANC. But the decision of the ANC, then led by Jacob Zuma, to expel Julius Malema was wrong...

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