Zuma: Conference must decide the tripartite alliance’s future

Outgoing ANC president Jacob Zuma has called on the party’s national elective conference to decide how to respond to the South African Communist Party (SACP) decision to contest an election, and his banning from any official events by workers federation Cosatu.

Zuma bemoaned the state of the alliance in his opening address to the conference at Nasrec in southern Johannesburg on Saturday, saying tensions have come to a head while the alliance partners still need each other.

The ANC entered into an alliance with the SACP, Cosatu and the South African National Civics Organisation (Sanco) in 1993, and has won elections with the three bodies campaigning for them since the turn of democracy.

Zuma said that in 1994 alliance tensions emanated from the disagreements about the ANC’s policy choices.

“The tensions that have built up over the years, at times as a result of dissatisfaction with policy instruments adopted by ANC and govt, have now come to a head in an unprecedented move.

“We saw in the past few months our alliance partners marching side by side with right wing forces who are historically opponents of our democratic revolution, calling on the president of the ANC to step down,” Zuma said.

“A decision was taken by our allies to bar the president of the ANC from attending any or addressing any of their gatherings. Hardly three weeks ago, the SACP contested elections on its own, working against the ANC in the Metsimaholo local government,” Zuma added.

Both the SACP and Cosatu have called on Zuma to step down. The SACP publicly criticized Zuma after he sacked former finance minister Pravin Gordhan and his deputy, Mcebisi Jonas, accusing him of crippling the country’s criminal justice system.

Cosatu said it had lost confidence in Zuma to lead and unite the ANC and the country, and therefore would not allow him to speak at its events. On May Day this year, Zuma was booed by hundreds of workers in the Free State.

He told the ANC delegates that the conference was obliged to publicly respond to these positions by its allies, as the ANC is the leader of the alliance and the decisions to ban Zuma and call for him to step down were taken at public conferences.

“This conference must discuss these new developments and provide direction having given due regard to proposals of SACP around the reconfiguration of the alliance in line with new conditions of struggle,” Zuma said.

“It’s important that when we take decisions about it, we carefully think about what we are doing to our history and our objectives, that are still there. Our revolution is not complete. Don’t we need one another? I think we still do,” Zuma added.

The outgoing ANC president said he hoped his replacement would lead such a delegation, which would discuss the tensions at the alliance political council next year.

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Govan Whittles

Govan Whittles is a general news and political multimedia journalist at the Mail & Guardian. Born in King William's Town in the Eastern Cape, he cut his teeth as a radio journalist at Primedia Broadcasting. He produced two documentaries and one short film for the Walter Sisulu University, and enjoys writing about grassroots issues, national politics, identity, heritage and hip-hop culture.

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