A façade of unity in a sea of lob­by­ing

CityPress - - Business - Terry Bell busi­ness@ city­press. co. za

Unity and co­he­sion re­main the slo­gans for the ANC-led al­liance as the three part­ners echo the claim of last week’s Cosatu spe­cial na­tional congress that such to­geth­er­ness has been as­sured. It hasn’t.

How­ever, with the in­fight­ing hav­ing gone over­whelm­ingly in favour of the ex­ec­u­tive, there are hur­ried at­tempts to cre­ate a façade of unity as the lob­by­ing con­tin­ues.

The in­fight­ing, mea­sured by the vote on the some­what es­o­teric is­sue of cre­den­tials, largely went the way it did for three rea­sons:

Pos­si­bly sub­stan­tial mi­nori­ties in a num­ber of unions could not, on a show of hands, go against their ma­jori­ties;

The fact that ex­pelled me­tal work­ers’ union Numsa, by en­cour­ag­ing the es­tab­lish­ment of a United Front and a So­cial­ist Move­ment, had moved into the po­lit­i­cal arena, di­rectly op­pos­ing the ANC and the SA Com­mu­nist Party (SACP); and

The ex­ec­u­tive ar­gu­ment that the re­in­state­ment of both Numsa and ex­pelled Cosatu gen­eral sec­re­tary Zwelinz­ima Vavi could be raised at the fed­er­a­tion’s sched­uled congress in Novem­ber.

To the fore­front in con­grat­u­lat­ing the Cosatu ma­jor­ity on “build­ing unity and co­he­sion”, ob­vi­ously with­out Numsa and Vavi, is the SACP. In con­trast, the ANC clearly would like to see both read­mit­ted.

The SACP had also, only days be­fore the Cosatu congress, com­pleted its own spe­cial con­fer­ence, called in the face of grow­ing de­mands from rank and file mem­bers for the party to “go it alone” in elec­tions. As with the schisms in the Cosatu unions, this is a man­i­fes­ta­tion of in­creas­ing lev­els of dis­il­lu­sion­ment with the ANC in gov­ern­ment.

This dis­il­lu­sion­ment has also seen the SACP grow quite rapidly to a claimed 225 000 mem­bers. And it is many of these newer, younger, mem­bers, seek­ing an al­ter­na­tive to the present regime, who want the SACP to chal­lenge for power on an al­ter­na­tive, “so­cial­ist” plat­form.

This at­ti­tude is un­der­stand­able, since of the sixmem­ber ex­ec­u­tive of the SACP, three are min­is­ters, one is a deputy min­is­ter and one chairs the par­lia­men­tary port­fo­lio com­mit­tee on com­mu­ni­ca­tions. The 11-strong Polit­buro con­tains the ANC sec­re­tary-gen­eral, the gen­eral sec­re­tary of Cosatu and the gen­eral sec­re­tary of the fed­er­a­tion’s now largest af­fil­i­ate, the Na­tional Ed­u­ca­tion, Health and Al­lied Work­ers’ Union, along with two for­mer gov­ern­ment min­is­ters and two mem­bers of Par­lia­ment.

Among the 22 cur­rent mem­bers of the party’s cen­tral com­mit­tee, ex­clud­ing the Polit­buro mem­bers, there are two na­tional gov­ern­ment min­is­ters, three deputy min­is­ters, the deputy speaker of Par­lia­ment and three MPs.

Given this de­gree of rep­re­sen­ta­tion in the cen­tral body politic alone, it is lit­tle won­der that many SACP mem­bers feel that their party could stage a se­ri­ous elec­toral chal­lenge. But that is only be­cause they think – as, of­fi­cially, does Cosatu – that the SACP is a rad­i­cal al­ter­na­tive to the ANC.

Yet lead­ing fig­ures in the SACP are all mem­bers of not only the ANC, but of gov­ern­ment. As such, they are equally re­spon­si­ble for poli­cies that their own party is sup­posed to op­pose.

And although the ANC re­mains a mem­ber of the poly­glot So­cial­ist In­ter­na­tional, its poli­cies are de­cid­edly main­stream: “ne­olib­eral” in cur­rent par­lance.

So per­haps the SACP should adopt the so­cial­ist an­them, the Red Flag, but use the words: “The peo­ple’s flag is palest pink/ it’s not as red as some folk think.”

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from South Africa

© PressReader. All rights reserved.