Who tried to kill Solly Mapaila?
SA Communist Party (SACP) members and leaders have been trying to establish who could be on a hit list after video evidence emerged of a mystery man who appears to be waiving a gun in the direction of the party’s second deputy general secretary Solly Mapaila at the Chris Hani commemoration on Monday.
The unknown man was accidentally caught on video by a journalist while the crowd heckled and booed Mapaila when he was due to deliver a speech at the statesponsored memorial service of slain former SACP general secretary Chris Hani.
The video is dark and one cannot make out any individuals clearly.
The SACP has dubbed the incident a failed assassination attempt of Mapaila, who has been leading the charge for President Jacob Zuma to step down in the aftermath of a recent Cabinet reshuffle that triggered an economic meltdown.
The party not only wants an urgent meeting with the ANC-led alliance to discuss the matter, but also wants answers from State Intelligence Minister David Mahlobo and Police Minister Fikile Mbalula.
Some in the SACP have linked the gun-wielding man to a senior ANC leader whose name is known to City Press.
SACP general secretary Blade Nzimande has spoken out on the incident, but steered clear of directly pointing a finger at anyone specific.
He said the party received information beforehand that Mapaila would be booed, but suspects that the “assassination attempt” was part of the plot. He said the party had discussed the matter with the ANC and made it clear that it would not retaliate.
“We are a proud communist party and a disciplined component of the alliance and we are not going to retaliate. But we never thought it would go to an extent that someone would actually be carrying a gun there. That is really deeply disturbing.”
Nzimande said it was no secret that there were a lot of “parasites” who were not happy with what Mapaila was saying on behalf of the party.
It’s understood there were SMSes that were circulated in advance to various people within the ANC instructing them to cause chaos at the event. Mapaila was first booed when his name was called out for him to go and lay a wreath on Hani’s grave on behalf of the SACP.
“Some of them would like a situation where they [can] just steal and loot the state and corrupt our alliance at will. We know the particular target is the ANC because the ANC is the governing party.”
It remains a mystery how the armed man gained access to the highly securitised zone that was swept by Zuma’s security detail.
Nzimande said he hoped all the alliance structures would cooperate in helping identify the person and the circumstances under which he was allowed access with a gun at a function that the president attended.
There were last-minute changes to the programme that saw Zuma take to the podium first, ahead of alliance partners. He left shortly after speaking.
The party leaders were seething with anger at the brazen intent to spill blood at Hani’s gravesite. Ekurhuleni Mayor Mzwandile Masina’s office said he would assist in the investigation of such a serious matter.
“We are aware of the allegations that have been made, though we have not received any official correspondence from the SACP regarding the matter. We would support an investigation into the matter as it is quite serious,” said Masina’s spokesperson Gugu Ndima.
Nzimande said there was no doubt that the security of the party leadership as a whole was under threat.
“We are going to raise it with them because it’s clear that Solly’s security now is seriously under threat, if not the party leadership as a whole. There is no doubt about it – that is why we are going to engage government.”
City Press understands that the security of SACP leaders has been seriously beefed up. This is not the first time that SACP leaders have been under threat.
“We can’t allow a situation where we go back to the suppression of communists in this country. We have raised this with the alliance. We said we felt that in particular provinces and with some national leaders, there is an anticommunist posture that is reminiscent of the apartheid suppression of communism,” said Nzimande.
Nzimande said if nothing got done, the SACP was going to mobilise.
He dared anyone who thought the SACP was a “Mickey Mouse party” to think again.
An alliance insider said this shows the level of desperation on the part of staunch Zuma supporters unhappy with the escalated mobilisation against Zuma.
Nzimande said death threats against any of them would not deter them from fighting against monopoly capital and “elements that are looting the state and weakening our capacity to deal with monopoly capital”. “And these are the parasitic patronage networks. That’s the struggle that we will intensify as the communist party and nothing will stop us from that. Not even death threats. Death threats do not mean we must sit back. We deal with the death threats in the context of fighting this bigger struggle and of course we have to ensure that our leaders are protected.”
Mapaila is a former Umkhonto weSizwe military intelligence operative and served in the military intelligence after the SA National Defence Force was established.
But instead of pursuing a career in the military, Mapaila chose to remain at the SACP offices where he takes care of the day-to-day running of the organisation in Nzimande’s absence.
The SACP amended its constitution at its 2009 congress to create the second deputy general secretary position and removed the stipulation that the position of general secretary be full-time.
There had been concerns that senior government positions held by party bosses such as Nzimande and Jeremy Cronin were weakening the party’s management.
Mapaila has been on the offensive in recent days, taking on Zuma and the Gupta family.
Screenshot showing the supposed gun-wielding man