Com­mu­nists pro­tect­ing gravy train

CityPress - - Voices - Ra­pule Ta­bane voices@ city­press. co. za

Af­ter the cha­rade that was the spe­cial congress of the SA Com­mu­nist Party (SACP) ended last week­end, I could not help but re­mem­ber a chal­lenge posed by a friend who asked me in 2009 why we as the media called Blade Nz­i­mande’s con­gre­ga­tion a com­mu­nist party.

“I think it’s just lazy jour­nal­ism. What you have is the class of 2009 post-Polok­wane dis­plac­ing the 1996 class pro­ject. They all pray at the same al­tar of cap­i­tal­ist ac­cu­mu­la­tion. So when you guys in the media talk about the left and na­tion­al­ists, you are be­ing duped and go­ing along with it. What makes the SACP com­mu­nist? A congress res­o­lu­tion? Please guys! The SACP is the most weird bunch of cap­i­tal­ists.” And my friend Andile Mngxi­tama was right. His words rang in my ears as I won­dered what was com­mu­nist about Nz­i­mande’s po­lit­i­cal re­port to the congress.

Other than a quixotic at­tack on ev­ery­thing and ev­ery­one ex­cept gov­ern­ment, what else was there? Where was the di­alec­ti­cal ma­te­ri­al­ism? Where we ex­pected an anal­y­sis of the state of the SACP over the past two and a half years and how it in­flu­enced the course of so­ci­ety, gov­ern­ment and pol­icy, we got an an­gry tirade against the media, the ju­di­ciary, film mak­ers, the Eco­nomic Free­dom Fight­ers (EFF) and more.

Where we ex­pected in­tro­spec­tion from the SACP on the per­for­mance of its cadres in gov­ern­ment and how that strat­egy had ben­e­fited the party, we en­coun­tered deathly si­lence on this cru­cial de­bate.

The SACP posts lengthy dis­cus­sion doc­u­ments pos­ing per­ti­nent ques­tions about its history, cur­rent role and fu­ture per­mu­ta­tions be­fore such con­fer­ences, but when it’s all over, there is an un­sat­is­fac­tory feel­ing of been there, done that.

But from the media cov­er­age of the con­fer­ence, it was clear that what the del­e­gates (as op­posed to the lead­ers) were talk­ing about was whether the SACP should at­tempt to cap­ture state power for it­self in­stead of be­ing an ANC ap­pendage. Mem­bers were fright­fully aware that the cur­rent favourable dis­pen­sa­tion – in which its lead­ers have been de­ployed to plum jobs as may­ors, MECs and min­is­ters – can change at any time depend­ing on the ANC’s in­ter­nal dy­nam­ics. And they are try­ing to an­tic­i­pate and pre­pare for an even­tu­al­ity of a new ANC lead­er­ship that could be hos­tile to the SACP.

But it was clear that the top struc­ture – whose three lead­ers are gov­ern­ment min­is­ters – is not pre­pared to dis­rupt its gravy train. The lead­er­ship has de­ferred this mat­ter to some task team that we prob­a­bly will not hear from un­til the next congress – like they did about eight years ago when mem­bers also raised the prospect of the SACP con­test­ing power on its own.

Triv­i­al­is­ing and dis­miss­ing these calls from the grass roots could be the un­do­ing of the SACP lead­er­ship in the long term.

Un­less the party en­gages in a new round of purges to re­move those spear­head­ing these calls, it will be dif­fi­cult to sup­press such sen­ti­ments for­ever.

The same ap­plies to the pres­i­dent of labour fed­er­a­tion Cosatu, Sdumo Dlamini, who – like the SACP lead­ers – has fash­ioned him­self as a de­fender of the sta­tus quo.

Dlamini this week be­came en­trenched as the leader of the Cosatu fac­tion that favours close links with the ANC and gov­ern­ment.

Af­ter ex­pelling me­tal­work­ers’ union Numsa, which asked tough ques­tions about gov­ern­ment de­liv­ery, Dlamini is firmly en­sconced, com­pla­cent in vic­tory.

How­ever, it is much eas­ier to deal with per­son­al­ity clashes than be a true work­ers’ voice in tune with and in­ter­ested in tak­ing up work­ers’ de­mands.

As the econ­omy fal­ters and work­ers lose their jobs or be­come ca­sual work­ers, on whose side will Dlamini be?

Just two weeks ago, there was an al­liance meet­ing at which Cosatu and the SACP failed to win any con­ces­sions on the drop­ping of e-tolls as the ANC stood firm. Did we hear Dlamini com­plain about this? No. Like Nz­i­mande’s ob­ses­sion with killing the EFF, Dlamini is in­tent on deal­ing with Numsa. Gone are the days of chal­leng­ing mo­nop­oly cap­i­tal. These days the en­emy is any­one who chal­lenges the cur­rent sta­tus quo un­der Pres­i­dent Ja­cob Zuma.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from South Africa

© PressReader. All rights reserved.