/ 28 June 2011

Blade comes out in defence of under-siege SACP

Blade Comes Out In Defence Of Under Siege Sacp

South African Communist Party (SACP) boss Blade Nzimande has come out in defence of his party, which has been heavily criticised by some within the ANC-led alliance for failing to address working class issues.

Speaking during Cosatu’s central committee at Gallagher Estate in Midrand on Tuesday, Nzimande warned delegates not to support the ANC Youth League’s call for the nationalisation of mines, as this was intended to bail out struggling BEE (black economic empowerment) companies.

“The call for nationalisation [of mines] is not genuine. It is to bail out some people. After 10 years, there will be another call for the privatisation of the same companies. As the working class, we must not be fooled by the use of our language,” said Nzimande.

Nzimande also hit back at criticism by youth league president Julius Malema, that the SACP was failing to play the role of the vanguard of the working class. He described the youth league as a vanguard of tenderpreneurs, not of the working class as Malema claimed during his address at the league’s conference two weeks ago.

Nzimande claimed the youth league’s push for the nationalisation of mines was sponsored by “highly indebted BEE capitalists” who were hit by the 2008 global financial crisis when share prices in mining and other stocks tumbled.

“Hence, the call for nationalisation by elements within the ANC Youth League, whose intention is to save these BEE elements in crisis, and not to address the interests of the working class,” he said. “It is at this point that we wish to restate our goal of the public ownership of the means of production through socialisation. Nationalisation is but one way of achieving this overall objective, but nationalisation is not inherently progressive, as it depends on whose class interests is it advancing.”

‘Class content’
“Nationalisation has been undertaken by Hitler, just as it was undertaken by Fidel Castro. It is not the phrase that is critical, but the class content of such nationalisation,” added Nzimande.

The youth league has previously denied the charge that it was pushing for nationalisation to bail out BEE companies, saying it sought the economic transformation in the country, and that nationalisation would alleviate poverty and reduce unemployment.

The youth league’s call for nationalisation enjoys the support of Nzimande’s leftist allies in Cosatu, including general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi and the general secretary of Cosatu’s metal workers union (Numsa), Irvin Jim. This has contributed to the deepening of tensions between Nzimande and Vavi.

Cosatu has over the past few months complained that the SACP was neglecting working class issues, especially since Nzimande was appointed Higher Education Minister in 2009.

Vavi and Jim have been in the forefront of those who are demanding that Nzimande should return to his post in the SACP on a full time basis. Cosatu leaders also believe Nzimande has become less critical of president Jacob Zuma and some of the government’s neo-liberal policies.

Cabinet role
On Tuesday, Nzimande was at pains to justify his dual role as SACP boss and Cabinet minister.

“We cannot reduce our [SACP] role, as alliance partners to that of becoming a mere check and balance on the state to safeguard the Constitution. Instead we need to define what the responsibility of the working class should be in governance and mass mobilisation and strike the balance in order to be effective in all sites of the struggle,” said Nzimande.

Nzimande reminded delegates that although Cosatu and the communist party had enjoyed a close relationship in the past, the two organisations should remain independent of one another.

“Often what has caused some complications has been the public denouncement of the SACP’s decision on the deployment of its cadres. Publicly, the SACP has said that we accept the bona fides of Cosatu leadership who raised this point and we accept that it is out of genuine concern for the wellbeing of the party.

“We have also always stated quite categorically that this is a decision for the party and not any other formation to make, and that this is indeed a decision taken by the party after long discussions and based on a very extensive internal party debate around our MTV [Medium Term Vision], and around how we should engage with the state,” said Nzimande.

‘Heroes of the working class’
Nzimande implied that by raising the matter in public, Vavi and Jim were trying to be seen as heroes of the working class.

None of us dare raise this matter in public as this can only play into the agenda of the bourgeois media. None of us should seek to become heroes of bourgeois media at the expense of the very important relationship between our two formations,” said Nzimande.

Nzimande said Cosatu and SACP leaders should work hard to close ranks against “the new tendency”, referring to the youth league, instead of wasting their energy on fighting each other.

With Cosatu leaders expected to decide on whether to support president Jacob Zuma for a second term, Nzimande urged Cosatu and the SACP to work together in defending the ANC and Zuma.

“[It is us] who helped bring the Zuma administration. Our discussions should focus on how we strengthen the [Zuma] administration to do what is supposed to do,” said Nzimande. — AFP