The Pan Africanist Congress of Azania (once known as the Pan Africanist Congress) is warming up for a political comeback after 58 years of existence.
Formally launched on 6 April 1959 at Orlando Communal Hall in Soweto, after breaking away from the African National Congress (ANC), PAC, in 1960, organized the anti-pass laws which led to the Sharpeville massacre on March 21.
Since its transition to a political party, PAC has been beset by infighting, division, leadership tussle, and has had numerous changes of leadership.
As far back as 1996, the party was rocked by a crisis which led to the dismissal of Clarence Makwetu, who led the party in the 1994 elections, on the basis of “bringing the party into disrepute’.
The party is currently under the leadership of Luthando Richmond Mbinda, whose election was validated by the North Gauteng High Court in 2016 after a lengthy court battle with PAC’s expelled President, Letlapa Mphahlele.
Mbinda was elected president at the 2014 congress in Botshabelo, while Letlapa Mphahlele was elected in July 2015 in Manguang.
Mbinda insisted at the time that Mphahlele’s election was not valid, as he was not a valid member. Mphahlele, on the other, continued to fight for his reinstatement as the party’s president. The matter was finally settled in 2016 when Mbinda won.
At the time, the leadership also led to the suspension of the party’s statutory fund’s allocations by the Independent Electoral Commission – which demanded clarity about who leads the party.
Since the court validated his election, Luthando Mbinda has been working towards reviving the party, promising to restore the dignity of the people.
The party is not also backing down on wrestling the reins of leadership from the hands of the ruling party. This was clearly made known on Tuesday while commemorating the Human Rights Day on Tuesday.
Mbinda told reporters that the party would be in the running for leadership of the country come 2024.
“Come 2024, the PAC will take over as the ruling government. We have given the current government too many opportunities at the cost of the lives of our people.
This coming April 6, when we celebrate 58 years of the PAC, will be a turning point for us in terms of attending to the issues of the poorest of the poor. We have focused too much on internal wrangles; it is high time that we move forward. We had only one Human Rights Day event here, which shows a willingness to come together,” he said.
On Sharpville massacre, the PAC leader reminded its supporters on the township outside Cape Town 69 protesters were shot because they fought for the return of the land to its rightful owners.
Regardless of their sacrifice, Luthando Mbinda lamented that land that has still not been returned and is still in the hands of white monopoly capital.
Nevertheless, he vowed the party will henceforth focus on addressing the needs of the poor.
PAC’s share of the vote has steadily declined from 1,25 percent in 1994 to 0,21 percent in the 2014 national elections.
In 2009, the party witnessed the biggest drop after its former Member of Parliament Themba Godi and two others used floor-crossing legislation in 2007 to leave the PAC and form the African People’s Convention.
PAC’s first president was Robert Sobukwe while its first secretary-general was Potlako Leballo.