The rebellion by members loyal to ousted South African president Thabo Mbeki has thrown the dominant ANC into disarray and could reshape the country’s post-apartheid political landscape.
The new party is expected to contest elections, due in the first half of 2009 and leaders of the new grouping said at the weekend they wanted to be in the government after next year’s polls.
“We have decided on this name (South African Democratic Congress) and we are busy registering the name . . . it embraces all the people of South Africa,” party spokesman Mbulelo Ncedana said.
It had chosen the South African National Congress, but this was challenged in court by the ANC.
Supporters of the new organisation, led by former defence minister Mosioua Lekota and former provincial premier Mbhazima Shilowa, decided to formalise the breakaway at a weekend convention and to officially launch the party next month. Lekota and Shilowa both resigned in sympathy with Mbeki, who was forced by the ANC to step down as state president in September. Mbeki was defeated by Jacob Zuma in a bitter contest for the ANC leadership in 2007 and ousted by the party nine months later after being accused of trying to smear his rival.
Mbeki has not linked himself to the breakaway party but has said he does not want to be part of the ANC election campaign.