South African Communist Party boss Blade Nzimande has launched a veiled attack at what he refers to as “parasitic bourgeoisie” within the ANC, out to dislodge communist leaders from important positions within the governing party.
With the ANC elective conference in 2017 drawing closer, there have been growing tensions between nationalists and communists in the ANC-led alliance. At issue is who should succeed president Jacob Zuma as the next ANC leader.
Under Zuma’s leadership, a number of communists, including Nzimande, were elevated to key positions within the ANC and the government. But with Zuma’s term coming to an end, there is a fear within the left that some ANC leaders are out to dislodge them from the party.
Some within the SACP believe a faction within the ANC, which includes three premiers from North West [Supra Mahumapelo], Mpumalanga [David Mabuza] and Free State [Ace Magashule] and some leaders within the ANC youth and women’s Leagues, is pushing hard to oust communist leaders from the liberation movement.
The group, popularly known as the Premier League faction and is said to enjoy president Zuma’s support, has expressed its interest to have African Union Commission chairperson and Zuma’s ex-wife Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma as his successor in the ANC and the government. Zuma himself has said he believe the country is ready for a woman president.
The SACP and some within Cosatu want deputy president Cyril Ramaphosa to take over as ANC president.
Addressing the Cosatu national congress on Tuesday, Nzimande called on the ANC to deal with the new tendency within the party – saying its sole aim was to derail the movement from achieving the national democratic revolution goals.
“Our alliance, as president Zuma has said, is [supposed to be] biased towards the working class. But there is a new attempt to replace it with the capitalist class. We must be honest among ourselves. We get worried when we hear [people saying] that the SACP and Cosatu no longer add value [to the ANC]. It is like to say the working class is not adding value to the revolution,” said Nzimande. He said the kind of challenges the alliance was currently facing needed maximum unity among all partners. “We must wage relentless struggle against factionalism. It is dangerous that some [among us] are preoccupied with 2017 [ANC elective conference]. We have local elections next year [to focus on],” said Nzimande. He urged Cosatu members to join the SACP in their numbers to boost the party’s campaign for economic transformation.
He also called on Cosatu to join the SACP’s financial sector campaign to fast-track transformation in the country.
The SACP, Nzimande said, would include the push for the private sector to finance higher education as part of its financial sector campaign. Nzimande, who is also higher education minister, has come under pressure from the #feesmustfall movement, which accused him of failing to ensure that there is free education for all in South Africa.
He objected to claims by his detractors that the SACP was behind divisions within Cosatu.
“The aim of those who say we are dividing Cosatu is to drive a wedge between us [SACP] and the federation. Some say the SACP is taking sides [in Cosatu fights]. We want to say to workers that the communist party cares about you.”
Nzimande said the SACP was not against leaders of Cosatu rebel unions and promised to visit each one of them to resolve differences.
Meanwhile, the South African Democratic Teachers Union [Sadtu] deputy general secretary Nkosana Dolopi has accused the the ANC of failing to defend Nzimande and its alliance partners against attacks by some of its leaders.
“We have never seen an attack on capital like we are seeing on comrade Blade. Any attack on Blade is an attack on communists. We must defend our leader. If the ANC says it is the shield within the alliance, we would see it shielding Cosatu and the SACP. Some times we are even attacked by our [ANC] ministers. Why are we enduring e-tolls and labour brokers under the shield of the ANC? Employers are undermining collective bargaining. We can’t accept that our shied behave like this. It can’t be that it is them [the ANC] who divide us. We need to feel like we are an ally. The hostility that exist [between us] now, must come to an end,” said Dolopi. Dolopi caused a stir when he proposed that Cosatu should re-affirm its 2006 resolution to support ANC deputy president [Ramaphosa] as the automatic successor to the president [Zuma].
“It can’t be that every time we go to ANC conferences, there is instability. We are not raising a name, but we are saying Cosatu must be a principled organisation. We must deal with how we deal with succession in the ANC. It affects us [Cosatu], the ANC and government.
“When we went to Mangaung [for the ANC national conference] and elected deputy president [Cyril Ramaphosa], we had faith in him. Why doubt him now,” said Dolopi.
Sadtu’s call to have Ramaphosa as president was supported by the National Health and Allied Workers Union (Nehawu), the South African Clothing and Textile Workers Union (Sactwu) and the Democratic Nursing Organisation of South Africa (Denosa). The South African Transport and Allied Workers’ Union (Satawu) rejected the proposal.