Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa has pleaded with the SACP not to leave the ANC-led alliance and cautioned against the communist party independently contesting the 2019 general elections.
The issue of the SACP contesting the elections will dominate discussions at its 14th national congress underway at Birchwood Hotel in Boksburg.
On Wednesday, Ramaphosa warned delegates against making emotional decisions that would tear the alliance apart, especially at a time when the country’s leaders were trying to fight state capture.
“There’s still a long way to go, and this is the moment when friends do not part, this is the moment when friends unite to move forward with greater strength,” Ramaphosa pleaded.
“Comrades we must face reality and the reality we must face is that, as a revolutionary movement, we must never take decisions by what drives our emotions, because we are angry with the ANC for having not done anything on corruption and so forth. Pause kancane comrades, pause just for a minute.”
The deputy president was speaking on behalf of the ANC after the SACP made it clear that it didn’t want President Jacob Zuma to address the gathering.
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While Ramaphosa called on SACP members to reconsider their desire to contest the elections, delegates scoffed at his requests, with some shouting “yes!” when he asked whether they were willing to see themselves going against their alliance partner.
After his address delegates started singing “Siyas’funa iState Power” (we want state power), signalling that Ramaphosa’s pleas had fallen on deaf ears.
Bheki Ntshalintshali, general secretary of labour federation Cosatu, also warned against making decisions informed by anger about the current state of the alliance.
“In dealing with this question, we cannot afford to be emotional and metaphysical in our approach. We must be guided by the saying that you should not make decisions informed by anger,” he said.
But there was agreement on Ramaphosa’s views on state capture as he delivered what was perhaps his most hard-hitting criticism of the Gupta family.
“There is not a single day that passes that we do not gain greater insight into a network of illicit contracts, deals and appointments that are designed to benefit just one family and their associates,” Ramaphosa said. “Should we remain quiet when all this happens? No! We cannot. And I am one of those who will not remain quiet. We cannot be quiet.”
In addition to supporting calls for the immediate creation of an independent commission of inquiry into state capture, he also called on law enforcement agencies to do their job in investigating the allegations.
Ramaphosa said the ANC would no longer protect those in its ranks who were involved in state capture and hijacking concepts such as radical economic transformation for their own gain.
While the deputy president called on the SACP to come up with solutions that would regenerate and strengthen the ANC-led alliance, it appeared that some SACP delegates hoped the solutions generated on state capture, corruption and the economy would be used to see the communist party become a political force independent of the ANC.
Although SACP leaders have said the party will never leave the alliance, there is a possibility that it could decide to contest the 2019 elections by lobbying its alliance partner Cosatu to support its endeavour.
Additional reporting by Given Sigauqwe