Blade set for next SACP term

Nz­i­mande ten­ure time­line

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

SA Com­mu­nist Party (SACP) leader Blade Nz­i­mande looks set to ex­tend his 19-year ten­ure by an­other five years when the party elects new lead­er­ship at its congress start­ing in just over a week in Jo­han­nes­burg. This is de­spite lob­by­ing by some mem­bers who want him to re­lin­quish his po­si­tion and hand over to one of the two deputy gen­eral sec­re­taries, Solly Ma­paila, whose pop­u­lar­ity and pub­lic pro­file have grown in the last few years – a pe­riod dur­ing which he also be­came a vo­cal critic of Pres­i­dent Ja­cob Zuma’s lead­er­ship.

With just eight days to go be­fore the congress, it has be­come clear that Nz­i­mande still wields some power, with in­sid­ers say­ing he has the sup­port of his home prov­ince KwaZulu-Natal, Mpumalanga and the West­ern Cape.

City Press has heard that while this may be the case, the congress could still be con­tested as at least two lead­ers in the top struc­ture don’t in­tend com­ing back.

In­sid­ers said SACP deputy gen­eral sec­re­tary Jeremy Cronin has in­di­cated that he wants to re­tire while party deputy chair­per­son Thu­las Nx­esi also wants to make an exit from the top struc­ture.

“There are some who want Ma­paila to suc­ceed Nz­i­mande but at this point he has to weigh his op­tions, and given the po­lit­i­cal en­vi­ron­ment and pos­ture the party has taken, he will not step down at this congress,” said the in­sider.

The sentiment was that the loss of his po­si­tion would ul­ti­mately trans­late into his los­ing power and po­lit­i­cal in­flu­ence.

“His constituency is in the SACP and he can’t af­ford to lose his po­si­tion be­cause if that hap­pens, he will be use­less as his name doesn’t ap­pear on any list of names of pre­ferred lead­er­ship of the ANC. He is not on the Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma list and is not on the [Cyril] Ramaphosa list, or any other slate for that mat­ter.”

Nz­i­mande re­signed as an MP in 1998 to serve the party full time, but af­ter Zuma ap­pointed him to Cabi­net in 2009, a spe­cial con­fer­ence en­dorsed his stay­ing on as SACP gen­eral sec­re­tary, even if he was no longer full time.

KwaZulu-Natal SACP sec­re­tary Themba Mthembu is be­ing con­sid­ered for one of the top po­si­tions should Cronin leave.

Cronin has been deputy gen­eral sec­re­tary for 22 years.

Be­fore the suc­ces­sion bat­tles in­ten­si­fied, Nz­i­mande was spec­u­lated to have been eye­ing the po­si­tion of deputy pres­i­dent. The in­ten­tion had been that, if he was nominated as one of the ANC’s top of­fi­cials, the SACP would then lessen the bur­den on his shoul­ders by de­mot­ing him to the po­si­tion of chair­per­son.

Mean­while, Buti Manamela, who is one of the many SACP lead­ers serv­ing in gov­ern­ment, is also un­likely to come back as a mem­ber of the party’s polit­buro.

Manamela and Nz­i­mande have not been see­ing eye to eye for some time now and both have for years re­fused to ex­plain the cause of the ten­sion.

An­other in­sider claimed the fall­out was linked to Nz­i­mande’s am­bi­tion to be nominated to a po­si­tion in the ANC’s top six at the gov­ern­ing party’s Man­gaung elec­tive con­fer­ence.

“Their fall­out was over Manamela’s re­fusal to rally the [Young Com­mu­nist League (YCL)] be­hind [Nz­i­mande’s] am­bi­tion to be­come the deputy pres­i­dent in Man­gaung, a po­si­tion which was then taken by Ramaphosa,” said the in­sider with knowl­edge of the ten­sions.

Manamela said he did not com­ment on gos­sip ped­dled by cow­ardly face­less sources, adding that this in fact was “old news” and had al­ready been pub­lished else­where.

“I am not the spokesper­son of the SACP. I will not dis­cuss SACP is­sues re­lat­ing to the congress in the me­dia.”

There was a push for the re­turn of David Masondo, who was driven out of the or­gan­i­sa­tion af­ter rub­bing Nz­i­mande and other lead­ers the wrong way with his scathing crit­i­cism of Zuma in 2010. Masondo was a cen­tral com­mit­tee mem­ber and has also served as leader of the YCL.

Nz­i­mande and Ma­paila could not be reached for com­ment.

SACP spokesper­son Alex Mashilo said he could not con­firm any­thing, when con­tacted for com­ment on Satur­day. How­ever, he said that to safe­guard the unity of the congress, the cen­tral com­mit­tee had asked struc­tures to han­dle the elec­tion dis­cus­sion with a view to reach­ing con­sen­sus.

“We will be in a po­si­tion to give fur­ther in­for­ma­tion as soon as the revo­lu­tion­ary elec­toral com­mis­sion has re­ceived and con­firmed nom­i­na­tions clar­i­fy­ing who has been nominated and what po­si­tion they have been nominated to serve in,” said Mashilo

Out­side of the lead­er­ship ques­tion, the SACP has a huge task this week to see if it can put in mo­tion resur­gent threats over the past few months to con­test na­tional elec­tions in its own name. Nz­i­mande re­lin­quishes his po­si­tion as chair­man af­ter he is elected sec­re­tary gen­eral at the party’s 10th an­nual na­tional congress 1998 The is­sue of con­test­ing elec­tions ‘within a re­con­fig­ured al­liance’ was in­tro­duced but de­feated Nz­i­mande and other lead­ers fi­nally warm up to the idea of con­test­ing elec­tions in the SACP's own name, af­ter a 2015 con­fer­ence de­ci­sion to ap­point a team to look at modal­i­ties thereof An­other win for Nz­i­mande as he gets re-elected Fail­ure to muster enough sup­port to oust him leads to Nz­i­mande re-elec­tion and Cronin re­mains his deputy at the 12th congress in Port El­iz­a­beth Some party mem­bers re­volt and at­tempt to force con­fer­ence to push Nz­i­mande to be made to choose be­tween the two po­si­tions. The SACP cen­tral com­mit­tee had given Nz­i­mande a free pass de­spite the con­sti­tu­tion ex­plic­itly stat­ing that the gen­eral sec­re­tary po­si­tion is full time 2007 His deputy, Cronin, is ap­pointed deputy min­is­ter of trans­port SACP con­sti­tu­tion changed at con­fer­ence to ac­com­mo­date Nz­i­mande with the cre­ation of ad­di­tional po­si­tion of se­cond DSG. Then SACP na­tional or­gan­iser, Solly Ma­paila, had al­ready taken up the run­ning of the of­fice of gen­eral sec­re­tary since Nz­i­mande was ap­pointed a min­is­ter 2012 He ap­pears num­ber 25 in the ANC’s list of a to­tal 60 na­tional ex­ec­u­tive com­mit­tee mem­bers, while Jeremy Cronin comes out at 45 at the ANC's Stel­len­bosch 51st na­tional con­fer­ence Un­der his lead­er­ship, the SACP helped Zuma fight his crim­i­nal bat­tles and cam­paigned for his elec­tion as ANC pres­i­dent. He and then friend-turned-neme­sis, Cosatu sec­re­tary gen­eral Zwelinz­ima Vavi, used their or­gan­i­sa­tions to drum up sup­port for Zuma dur­ing his court cases 2009 Nz­i­mande is ap­pointed into Cabi­net as higher ed­u­ca­tion min­is­ter by then close ally, Pres­i­dent Ja­cob Zuma Nz­i­mande and his deputy Cronin again re-elected un­op­posed at the party's 13th na­tional congress held at the Univer­sity of Zu­l­u­land near Em­pan­geni Ma­paila is elected se­cond deputy sec­re­tarygen­eral

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