SACP's election plans on hold, for now

Blade Nzimande (Madelene Cronje, M&G)

Blade Nzimande (Madelene Cronje, M&G)

The South African Communist Party (SACP) will continue to support the ANC, but may contest elections in the future. In the meantime, it wants more decision making powers within the tripartite alliance.

This was concluded after the party – part of the alliance with the ANC and Cosatu – held a special national congress over five days which also served as a mid-term review of its policies and proposals. 

“The special national congress has resolved that the SACP’s stance towards electoral politics will be evaluated in an ongoing manner and in the context of our medium-term vision to build working class hegemony in all sites of power,” said the party’s first deputy general secretary Jeremy Cronin.

General secretary Blade Nzimande said the party may well contest elections in the future.

“At the moment the focus is on electoral support for the ANC with a lot of emphasis on making the alliance function well,” Nzimande told journalists on Saturday. 

He said delegates had agreed to suspend the party’s plans to contest elections and that there would be what he termed a reconfigured alliance, which would see more regular meetings between the alliance partners. 

Nzimande maintained the relationship between the party and its allies was cordial. 

Meanwhile, in Mpumalanga, under the leadership of David Mabuza, there has been a complete breakdown in the parties’ relationship.

Nzimande said the SACP in Mpumalanga had wanted to contest elections because they were “being abused by ANC leaders who use ANC structures to pursue agendas at variance to the position of the ANC”.

“When we took a resolution of a reconfigured alliance we said the alliance must function. We must have campaigns beyond the elections.
There must be effective consultation [when decisions are made],” Nzimande noted. 

The special congress was concluded two days before Cosatu is due to hold its national congress. 

In his closing remarks Nzimande rejected the notion the party was the cause of divisions in Cosatu, and said it had worked tirelessly to rebuild a united trade union movement.

‘Left-wing language to say right-wing things’
Political analyst Steven Friedman told the Mail & Guardian ahead of the conference that the SACP has a schizophrenic personality in that its national leaders are mainly cheerleaders for President Jacob Zuma while younger members in provinces and municipalities are concerned about bread and butter issues.

“The SACP leadership use left-wing language to say right-wing things,” said Friedman.  

Friedman explained that on grassroots level, SACP members have several campaigns that are effective and speak to concerns of ordinary South Africans.

“The older generation is far too hung up with their relationship with the ANC. For the younger generation, there is no other effective left-wing party and that is why they joined the SACP,” he said.

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