CityPress - - News - HLENGIWE NH­LA­BATHI hlengiwe.nh­la­bathi@city­press.co.za

he prospect of Deputy Pres­i­dent Cyril Ramaphosa be­com­ing pres­i­dent of the ANC in 2017 was among sev­eral un­set­tling fac­tors that caused some mem­bers of the SA Com­mu­nist Party (SACP) to push for the SACP to con­sider con­test­ing elec­tions on its own.

Or­di­nary mem­bers of the SACP this week lob­bied strongly for the party to end its re­liance on the ANC to gov­ern.

But the fi­nal res­o­lu­tion an­nounced by party lead­ers was a mild one – they only com­mit­ted to es­tab­lish­ing a com­mit­tee to as­sess the party’s power and elec­toral op­tions.

SACP deputy sec­re­tary Jeremy Cronin said the move to es­tab­lish the com­mit­tee was part of how the party con­stantly eval­u­ated its power and in­flu­ence.

“We have re­solved that the SACP stance to­wards elec­toral pol­i­tics will be eval­u­ated in an on­go­ing man­ner in the con­text of our wider, medium-term vi­sion to build a work­ing class hege­mony,” he said.

SACP gen­eral sec­re­tary Blade Nz­i­mande said much em­pha­sis was be­ing placed on get­ting the al­liance to func­tion prop­erly.

At least three se­nior lead­ers who spoke to City Press said the elec­tion is­sue had be­come a rag­ing de­bate at the party’s spe­cial na­tional congress, which ended yesterday.

It was a source of great dis­com­fort to SACP lead­ers, who be­lieved it was not the right time to lock horns with its ally, the gov­ern­ing ANC.

Mem­bers who wanted to con­test elec­tions said Ramaphosa was not to be trusted and needed to be viewed as a “cap­i­tal­ist”.

There was also con­cern that, if he took over, the SACP could be side­lined and re­la­tions would be strained, as had been the case when for­mer pres­i­dent Thabo Mbeki was in power.

“The idea of 2019 is premised on the fact that we need to check ex­actly how Cyril in­tends to deal with the SACP. Will we en­joy cor­dial re­la­tions, as is the case un­der [Pres­i­dent Ja­cob] Zuma?” asked a pro­vin­cial leader.

“Zuma has been very good to the SACP. Our mem­bers have been de­ployed in gov­ern­ment.

“Will he re­tain our mem­bers? Even if we don’t win the de­bate now, we must still scru­ti­nise him lead­ing up to 2019 and take dras­tic de­ci­sions if needs be.”

The five-day SACP spe­cial congress was held at the Univer­sity of Johannesburg in Soweto and ended yesterday.

Nz­i­mande and chair­per­son Sen­zeni Zok­wana warned at the start of the congress that in­di­vid­ual ir­ri­ta­tions with the ANC should not lead to the rad­i­cal step of the SACP con­test­ing elec­tions on its own.

Since Pres­i­dent Zuma took over in 2009, many SACP mem­bers have taken up prom­i­nent po­si­tions in gov­ern­ment.

This is seen as his way of ap­peas­ing his al­lies to main­tain the unity of the al­liance.

The SACP se­nior lead­er­ship in gov­ern­ment con­sists of Nz­i­mande as higher ed­u­ca­tion min­is­ter, Public Works Min­is­ter Thu­las Nx­esi and his deputy Cronin, Zok­wana as min­is­ter of agri­cul­ture and for­mer Young Com­mu­nist League (YCL) na­tional sec­re­tary Buti Manamela, who is now deputy min­is­ter in the pres­i­dency.

The two prov­inces that led the de­bate on the need for the SACP to con­test state power were Mpumalanga and


Cosatu pres­i­dent Sdumo Dlamini (cen­tre) and Cosatu sec­ond

deputy pres­i­dent Zingiswa Losi greet SACP

deputy na­tional chair­per­son Thu­las Nx­esi

(seated) be­fore leav­ing the SACP’s spe­cial na­tional congress. Cosatu starts its spe­cial congress to­mor­row

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