JOHANNESBURG, SOUTH AFRICA — In a landscape stuffed with Popular Fronts, People's Parties, Freedom Parties, Democratic Congresses and dozens of other Alliances, Conventions and Movements, the South African dissidents seeking to brand their new political party are finding it difficult to be original.
The movement broke away from South Africa's ruling African National Congress last month, angered by the leadership style of party President Jacob Zuma, whom they accused of purging people who didn't support him from positions with the party.
Initial reports that the group was planning to call itself the South African National Congress, or SANC, infuriated the ANC, the political behemoth that has dominated South Africa since 1994.
But organizers denied they were ever wed to the name SANC. And on Monday, they announced the new party would be known as the South African Democratic Congress, or SADEC. The name, leaders said, embodied "the newness and change of the South African political landscape." But not so new after all. It turned out the similar name SADECO has already been taken. SADECO is a tiny party few people have heard of, essentially a splinter group's splinter group.
Electoral laws bar parties from choosing names that are too similar because it may confuse voters.
Leaders of the new movement are reportedly trying to persuade the party that registered the name to give it up.
An easily recognizable brand is crucial if a new party is to stand out in a crowd of dozens of small parties, splinter groups and one-man political movements, many whose names most South Africans would not know or remember.
Nicknamed Shikota by the media, after its founders, Mosiuoa Lekota and Mbhazima Shilowa, the new party has already faced some challenges.
When it tried to have a rally recently in Orange Farm, a township outside Johannesburg, the ANC bused in supporters to disrupt the event, many chanting "Kill Lekota."
One organizer said that when the breakaway movement tried to book hotel space for its 5,000-delegate national convention this past weekend, it found the ANC had block-booked most of the hotels.
Like Gulliver swatting at the Lilliputians, the ANC has tried to undermine the nation's many small parties. But Zuma claimed Monday that the ANC was unconcerned about the new breakaway party.
"As the ANC, we are going to take note of a party that is going to say, 'On these matters, we have a better policy.' If we feel these are better than our policies, then we could have reason to worry. At the moment, I don't think we have reason to worry," Zuma said, according to the state-owned TV and radio network SABC.