This Christmas secret talks aimed at a truce between warring alliance partners will occupy comrades who are anxious to ensure peace in time for the ANC’s January 8 birthday celebrations.
Some in the South African Communist Party (SACP) and Cosatu fear their leaders will be heckled at Kimberley’s celebration rally if ANC Youth League (ANCYL) members decide to avenge the booing of their president, Julius Malema, at the recent SACP congress in Polokwane.
The Christmas talks are intended to culminate early next year in an ANC, Cosatu and SACP meeting where the chief antagonists in the current verbal warfare, Malema and SACP general secretary Blade Nzimande are expected to apologise for their behaviour. The booing that greeted Malema at the SACP congress brought to boiling point long-simmering tensions between the two organisations.
Cosatu president Sdumo Dlamini told the Mail & Guardian that a meeting would be held before the birthday celebrations to bring Malema and Nzimande together in a spirit of reconciliation.
‘We will meet before January 8 to ensure that we have a smooth … celebration,” he said. ‘They will apologise, I’m sure they will.”
A senior Luthuli House official concurred that the SACP was expected to back down.
‘The differences are expected to rise sharply at the bilateral [meeting] early next year. That is why you see the SACP already preparing to apologise. They are trying to defuse the hotheads in the ANC. They are aware they have no mass appeal to effect the revolution they want, hence they want to use the ANC,” he said.
Dlamini said President Jacob Zuma had ordered the alliance partners to ‘meet and discuss these matters internally” to clear the air before next year.
But despite the call for peace, Dlamini still had harsh words for Malema.
‘It is too early for discussion around 2012 [the ANC’s centenary year] to start. Some of these things have to do with that conference.
‘Also, Malema represents the voice of a few minorities who are hoping we are not going to say what we are saying about corruption,” he said.
Young Communist League national secretary Buti Manamela welcomed efforts to reunite the alliance partners and said talks were informal at this stage. ‘This situation needs leadership and leadership will be provided. After all, we are all ANC members.”
Those who plan to heckle alliance leaders benefit from instability in the alliance, Manamela said.
‘There are those who would want to perpetuate the divisions because they feed opportunistically on such divisions. For us to have a strong alliance we will have no option but to isolate them.”
But some SACP leaders already predict the truce will not last.
One provincial SACP leader dismissed the truce-to-come as a ‘fake peace agreement” that is meant to appease the ANCYL.
‘They know the SACP will be in the minority,” the leader said. ‘If the ANC does what the SACP did in Polokwane, it will look very bad.”
He is also convinced the truce will offer only temporary relief. ‘Nothing will heal the rift — 2012 gets closer with every day and as that happens, people are losing their thinking capabilities.”
Even within the ANCYL, leaders remain sceptical. ‘There will be peace, but we need to formalise our decision in January at the ANCYL lekgotla.
‘We are doing this for the sake of public relations, but we are still not happy with the way we were treated in Polokwane,” said a youth league national executive committee member.
ANC spokesperson Jackson Mthembu confirmed that all alliance partners would have an opportunity to address the January 8 celebrations.
‘We are on course with the January 8 preparations with our alliance partners,” Mthembu told the
Mail & Guardian.