PAC Factions Make Unity Compromise

After years of infighting for the leadership of the PAC, four factions have put aside their differences and their claims to the party presidency so the Independent Electoral Commission can register the party for the 2019 national elections.

On March 7, 2019 Pretoria High Court Judge Moses Mavundla ordered leaders of the factions to thrash out an out-of-court settlement as he would not have been able to decide on the matter before the March 13 deadline for the IEC parliamentary party lists.

According to the settlement, agreed to on Friday and ratified by the court, Narius Moloto will be the interim president of the PAC as his face is already on campaign posters for the elections. He will stay on until an elective conference is held before 31 August.

In December 2018, Moloto had sought to interdict an elective conference in Kimberley intended to unite the factions. Former party presidents Luthando Mbinda and Letlapa Mpahlela attended the conference with their own groupings, where Mzwanele Nyontso was elected as the new leader of the PAC.

Moloto and former party president Alton Mphethi decided the Kimberley congress was not a “legitimate” party event. They refused to recognise the elected leadership.

The party went to court to decide on the official leadership the IEC could communicate with as the March 13 deadline neared.

“The judge said we must have a political solution rather than a legal one,” said Moloto.

While Moloto stays on as president, it was decided that Nyontso would be deputy president and the party representative in Parliament. Mbinda and Mphethi have been included in the National Executive Committee and the parliamentary list should the party receive more than the one seat it presently holds.

Nyontso says the PAC is bigger than one individual and the decision is in the best interests of the party. If an agreement had not been made, the party would have been excluded from taking part in the elections.

As the leader elected by branches in Kimberley, Nyontso says he “decided to bite the bullet” and compromise in taking an unpopular decision without consulting the membership because of “the urgency of the matter”.

Furthermore, he says that after explaining the situation to members, others are beginning to understand.

“We decided to put the PAC first, more than our own ambitions,” said Apa Pooe, who was appointed as party Secretary-General.

Pooe was also put in charge of compiling a list of party names to be submitted to the IEC this week to allow participation in the elections.

“Our members know that unity is important, we can’t go to the elections and be an alternative without fixing our own internal issues,” said Pooe.

However, party members are reported to be “disappointed” that Moloto, who is perceived to be at the heart of the disunity, still remains party president.

According to Mako Pele, Secretary of the PAC Johannesburg Region, members refuse to accept the newly agreed settlement because the branches had already voted for the leadership of the party in Kimberley.

Pele insists that the party cannot compromise on principles because of elections. Nyontso was “no longer following the Kimberley resolution” but had joined “Moloto and his cronies” because he aspired to be in Parliament.

“We are no longer advancing the revolutionary call that the PAC was formed because people want to be in Parliament,” said Pele.

However, Moloto says people must give the PAC a chance as it is the “only movement that can be trusted” with the “interests and aspirations of the African people”.

Moloto’s faction recently launched an election manifesto which has called for a tax break for nurses, doctors and teachers as well as for “land repossession” rather than expropriation of land without compensation.

“You cannot expropriate what does not belong to you,” said Moloto.

Moloto plans to run again for president of the PAC in the next elective conference. He says he intends to finish the “rebuilding” of the PAC, a task which he started.

Nyontso says the party still needs to consolidate the various executive committees, NECs and the multiple election manifestos into one, all of which will be decided in an upcoming meeting before the elections.

“I appeal to the members to be patient and trust the judgment of the leadership,” said Nyontso. 

  • Nkateko Mabasa is a journalist at Daily Maverick

OPINION: Nkateko Mabasa