Communists red-faced over Blade

The South African Communist Party says it does not regret its decision to support President Jacob Zuma during the ANC’s 2007 Polokwane conference — despite the recent falling-out between the ANC president and SACP boss Blade Nzimande.

Nzimande became the latest casualty of Zuma’s iron-fist rule after he was axed this week as higher education and training minister, a position he had held since 2009.

“The decisions adopted by the SACP towards Polokwane were not timeless but were principled decisions. There are many principled battles the SACP waged prior to Polokwane, which we do not regret,” said party spokesperson Alex Mashilo.

Nzimande was instrumental in Zuma being elected president at the party’s Polokwane conference, along with other one-time Zuma allies such as former Cosatu general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi, former deputy president Kgalema Motlanthe, former ANC deputy secretary general Thandi Modise, former youth league leader Julius Malema and ANC secretary general Gwede Mantashe.

Nzimande has now joined a long list of former Zuma loyalists who have turned into opponents.

But Mashilo argued the communist party’s support for Zuma was based on principles.

“The SACP fought against the economic policy of Gear [the Growth, Employment and Redistribution strategy], including privatisation and the rest of its neoliberalism, as well as the abuse of state power and its misuse to fight factional battles,” said Mashilo.“In addition, post-Polokwane it is the SACP that was the first organisation in South Africa to expose the existence of state capture and to call for an independent judicial commission of inquiry into state capture.

“It is obvious the SACP would have taken a different decision [at Polokwane] if the party knew that we were going to encounter the problem of the Guptas and the overall tendency associated with it.”

SACP leaders will meet at a special central committee meeting this weekend to chart the way forward. Despite suggestions that the party should recall all its deployees in key government positions, observers believe it is unlikely it will take such a decision.

On Tuesday the SACP said the party’s officials would not resign from the Cabinet because it believes that Nzimande was a victim of the organisation’s critical stance on the president and was part of Zuma’s manoeuvres to secure the election of his “ordained successor”.

“The SACP took a decision at its 14th congress in July to strengthen the alliance by reconfiguring it and to actively contest elections, either within the umbrella of a reconfigured alliance or on its own if the alliance is not reconfigured,” said Mashilo.

“The SACP is particularly of the strong view that the alliance must function as a political centre and must be governed by the principles of democratic consensus-seeking consultation, as opposed to authoritarianism, unilateralism and factionalism.”

Political analyst Ralph Mathekga said organisations that once backed the president have been left unable to challenge him.

“He has lost most of the people who supported him when he ascended to power — take for example Malema, Vavi and Blade,” said Mathekga.

“These individuals used the organisations that they led to support Zuma and when they were disposed of, the organisations were left debilitated. The SACP, [metalworkers’ union] Numsa, the youth league and Cosatu today do not have enough firepower to go up against the very same person they once supported.”

Another political analyst, Somadoda Fikeni, said the tripartite alliance is slowly realising the mistake that was made in the lead-up to Polokwane and is part of the reason for the tensions in the alliance.

“It is common sense that, when meritocratic principles are overlooked for loyalty, particular organisations or institutions have to be sacrificed,” he said.

“The rise of patronage coincides with the personalisation of power and weakening of institutions. Anywhere in the world where patronage rises, institutions become weak. The leaders of organisations like the SACP who backed Zuma believed that he was different from his predecessor. They said he was a unifier, someone who came from a poor background and therefore understood the plight of the working class and would unite the alliance — and they know now that they were wrong,” said Fikeni.

Subscribe to the M&G

These are unprecedented times, and the role of media to tell and record the story of South Africa as it develops is more important than ever.

The Mail & Guardian is a proud news publisher with roots stretching back 35 years, and we’ve survived right from day one thanks to the support of readers who value fiercely independent journalism that is beholden to no-one. To help us continue for another 35 future years with the same proud values, please consider taking out a subscription.

Related stories

Unisa shortlists two candidates for the vice-chancellor job

The outgoing vice-chancellor’s term has been extended to April to allow for a smooth hand-over

Fort Hare students test positive for Covid after partying

The 30 students, who went to a bash at a tavern in East London, were not wearing masks, did not sanitise their hands nor keep to social distancing regulations.

EFF assault case postponed

The case of assault against EFF leader Julius Malema and member of Parliament Mbuyiseni Ndlozi has been postponed because the court in Randburg did not allow the media to broadcast the case

Renewables will light up the darkness

More than 11 800MW of new electricity capacity from independent power producers will come online in 2022, giving Eskom space to do more maintenance on its unreliable infrastructure

Five universities extend academic year to March 2021

Minister Blade Nzimande says a staggered ending of the academic year is intended to support students

We cannot afford incremental action on climate change

The government has promised that we will get to net zero emissions by 2050, but is still taking actions that will make the climate crisis worse

Subscribers only

SAA bailout raises more questions

As the government continues to grapple with the troubles facing the airline, it would do well to keep on eye on the impending Denel implosion

ANC’s rogue deployees revealed

Despite 6 300 ANC cadres working in government, the party’s integrity committee has done little to deal with its accused members

More top stories

Hawks swoop down with more arrests in R1.4-billion corruption blitz

The spate of arrests for corruption continues apace in Gauteng and the Eastern Cape.

Catholic NGO boss accused of racism and abuse in Sudan

The aid worker allegedly called his security guard a ‘slave’

Agrizzi too ill to be treated at Bara?

The alleged crook’s “health emergency” — if that is what it is — shows up the flaws, either in our health system or in our leadership as a whole

SANDF hid R200m expenditure on ‘Covid’ drug it can’t use

Military health officials are puzzled by the defence department importing a drug that has not been approved for treating coronavirus symptoms from Cuba

press releases

Loading latest Press Releases…

The best local and international journalism

handpicked and in your inbox every weekday