Following a week of deliberations the South African Communist Party (SACP) has resolved to contest elections independently of the ANC.
The communist party has however, not stipulated which year it plans to contest, with some delegates believing that the 2019 elections may be too soon for the SACP to contest state power.
“After considerable debate at congress we have resolved that while the SACP will certainly contest elections, the exact modality in which we do so needs to be determined by way of concrete analysis and through the process of active engagement with worker and progressive formations,” said second deputy general secretary Chris Matlhako who presented the declarations of the congress.
The resolution however, is not new. The SACP made its first threat of contesting elections at its congress in 2007. However general secretary Blade Nzimande said the lack of action on the resolution was due to a “Polokwane hype” which followed the election of president Jacob Zuma as leader of the ANC.
He said a conclusive date to contest elections could not be made without alliance partners and allied forces being consulted.
“We have not engaged Cosatu seriously on this. The communist party can never make a decision to contest when we don’t have a very firm backing from Cosatu and workers. We can’t just go and say ‘we are contesting come’,” Nzimande said.
“We need to have a very structured discussion to say congress has this feeling, what are your views?”
The Mail & Guardian understands that informal discussions have begun between the SACP, trade unions and ANC veterans for the formation of an alternative movement if the ANC elects Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma as president in December.
Deputy president Cyril Ramaphosa has been proposed to lead the new grouping.
During the final hour of the SACP’s 14th national congress in Boksburg, excited delegates sang: “Le utliwe ditaba tse monate? Hore party ya contesta?” [have you heard the good news that the party is contesting elections].
Throughout the conference the songs sung at the congress alluded to a strong desire by SACP members to contest state power.
The SACP has however said that it still has faith in the ANC-led alliance and is still committed to restoring its function. It said it would report back to the ANC on its decision but reminded the ruling party that it would be a discussion of equals, not of “seniors and juniors” in the alliance.
The SACP’s central committee has been mandated to draw up a timeline on its electoral ambitions, consult with relevant stakeholders and report back on its findings later this year.