/ 12 August 2011

Communists ‘purging opposition’ in KwaZulu-Natal

Factions in the South African Communist Party (SACP) and the Young Communist League (YCL) in KwaZulu-Natal claim the parties are trying to silence and even purge dissident members in the run-up to provincial conferences to elect new leaders.

According to a former youth wing provincial leader who spoke to the Mail & Guardian on condition of anonymity, those “being purged” from the SACP are those in the province who want a review of the decision to allow YCL general secretary Buti Manamela and SACP general secretary Blade Nzimande to keep their full-time party positions while still being deployed to the government.

The same allegation has been made in Gauteng, where provincial chairman Nkosiphendule Kholisile, a known Nzimande critic, has been suspended.

“There are about 60 people in KZN who have already been purged,” the former youth leader said. “It’s also happening in other provinces. The provincial leadership wants to get the dissidents out of structures so that people like Blade and Buti can consolidate their support going into the regional and provincial conferences.”

The source was one of the hecklers during speeches by Manamela and Nzimande at the SACP’s 90th anniversary celebrations near Durban last weekend.

Some in the SACP and youth league are unhappy that both have taken other jobs but have held on to their full-time party positions. The SACP constitution used to prohibit it until it was changed to accommodate Nzimande — after the 2009 general elections, he became the minister of higher education and training. Manamela is a member of the national legislature.

SACP provincial secretary Themba Mthembu said allegations of a purge were a “surprise to us”. “We are not aware of any purges in KZN and there has never been any serious opposing views within the party [on positions held by the YCL and SACP general secretaries],” he said.

Mthembu said those disrupting the party’s celebration “may be from the tenderpreneurs within the alliance who are looking to destabilise the SACP because we have been strong on them”. They could also be “elements from the trade unions who have been vocal on wanting comrades Blade and Buti recalled”.

Youth league spokesperson Mlondi Mkhize dismissed the hecklers as “disgruntled” members of the league’s former provincial executive committee, which was disbanded in the run-up to the organisation’s national conference in Mahikeng in December. It was marked by brawling between Manamela supporters and those rallying around his challenger, Khaye Nkwanyana.

There were also allegations of vote-rigging and a tweaking of the election rules that saw the support that nominees needed to stand for election raised from 33% to 40%. Nkwanyana couldn’t muster the necessary numbers, which left the door open for Manamela to continue leading the youth league.