SACP invokes Mandela's name in call for unity

Mmanaledi Mataboge

The SACP says former president Nelson Mandela would have loved to see the tripartite alliance working together in unity.

The SACP has said alliance members owe it to the late Nelson Mandela to unite the group. (Clarissa Sosin, M&G)

Members of the ANC-led tripartite alliance owe it to the late Nelson Mandela to unite the group, said the South African Communist Party on Saturday

In its weekly newsletter Umsebenzi Online, the SACP said Mandela – who was an SACP central committee member when he was arrested by the apartheid government in 1962 – would have loved to see the ANC, SACP and Cosatu working together in unity.

"Their [Mandela’s] generation struggled to build and cement the unity of our alliance and we therefore owe it to the memory of Cde Madiba to preserve the unity of our alliance,” the SACP said in the newsletter.

The call comes in a week that tensions have heightened between the SACP and Cosatu’s biggest affiliate, the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa, because of disagreements stemming from the suspension of the union federation’s general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi. Both the SACP and Numsa have called several press conferences at which they have accused each other of either neglecting or using the working class for their own benefit. The two organisations also called for lifestyle audits on each other’s leaders.

The ANC has set up a team among its leaders to assist Cosatu iron out issues after Vavi’s suspension divided the federation into two factions – one supporting Vavi and the other backing Cosatu president Sidumo Dlamini – who is accused of being behind the general secretary’s woes. Divisions within Cosatu have threatened to split the federation, posing a threat to the unity of the alliance.

"The one major lesson we need to learn from Mandela and his generation of leaders was their commitment to principled unity within each of our alliance formations as well as the unity of our alliance as a whole and that of the entire mass democratic movement," said the newsletter.

For those seen to be causing divisions within the ANC-led alliance, the SACP issued a strong warning: "Let those who do not understand the extent to which blood was spilt in pursuance of alliance unity be reminded not to throw mud at the legacy and memory of the likes of Madiba by being reckless and gambling with the unity of our alliance."

SACP spokesperson Alex Mashilo told the Mail & Guardian that the communist party was making the call for unity with next year’s elections in mind.

"We need maximum alliance unity," he said.

"This period is an extremely important one. Winning elections will continue to position the ANC in a perfect place to take forward the ideal Mandela said he’s living for and the ideal he said he’ll die for," Mashilo said.

The SACP added that in honouring Mandela’s memory the party would intensify "the struggle against all forms of inequality, including intensifying the struggle for socialism, as the only political and economic solution to the problems facing humanity".

The SACP said Mandela would "forever symbolise the monumental contribution of the SACP" in the struggle for liberating South Africa

The SACP said Mandela was a "gallant fighter" and became a "great and close friend of the communists till his last days".

Mandela died at his Houghton, Johannesburg, home on Thursday night at the age of 95.

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