SACP needs Blade – Ma­paila

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

“I will never con­test Com­rade Blade Nz­i­mande.”

With these words, SA Com­mu­nist Party (SACP) deputy gen­eral sec­re­tary Solly Ma­paila closed the de­bate on the suc­ces­sion ques­tion in the party, de­spite the silent lob­by­ing calls for him to take over from his men­tor.

Nz­i­mande has been at the helm of the SACP since 1998 and he is ex­pected to ex­tend his term by an­other five years at the party’s 14th elec­tive congress to­mor­row.

For Ma­paila and oth­ers in the SACP, the sta­tus quo must re­main, at least for now. Ma­paila said: “I don’t be­lieve that the time has come for that kind of strate­gic change. That change must come, it is im­por­tant, but it must take its own pace.

“It will not be pos­si­ble for me to con­test Com­rade Blade. I won’t do it at any time,” he told City Press on Fri­day, shortly af­ter prais­ing Nz­i­mande’s 19-year lead­er­ship.

Ma­paila has over the last few months been at the fore­front as a crit­i­cal voice against Pres­i­dent Ja­cob Zuma in the SACP and his pop­u­lar­ity has grown in­side and out­side the party.

Those who want him to lead, say that Nz­i­mande has served for too long and should make way for some­one new.

Nz­i­mande finds him­self in a tight cor­ner as his exit from the party could be the end of his po­lit­i­cal ca­reer.

The threat of the SACP break­ing away from the ANC al­liance has been de­scribed as noth­ing but a means to bar­gain for its lead­ers to feature in ANC lead­er­ship struc­tures. City Press learnt that there was a meet­ing in the East Rand this week, at­tended by as many as seven pro­vin­cial lead­ers, where some raised con­cerns about Nz­i­mande serv­ing for too long.

“The pro­vin­cial lead­ers were say­ing they were not con­sulted and were not happy with some things. But peo­ple have ac­cepted that Blade will stay on in the po­si­tion. Nz­i­mande be­longs to a cer­tain gen­er­a­tion and that gen­er­a­tion stood by Zuma. It has com­pro­mised him so much,” said an in­sider. The in­sider said that some felt that gen­er­a­tion should exit the party and that a com­pletely new lead­er­ship should be cho­sen. City Press has learnt that the party’s first deputy gen­eral sec­re­tary, Jeremy Cronin, who had in­tended to retire at this congress, has since been con­vinced to stay on.

While the de­ci­sion to keep Nz­i­mande and other of­fi­cials in their po­si­tions stands, ques­tions re­main on whether cur­rent chair­per­son Sen­zeni Zok­wana and Polit­buro mem­ber Buti Manamela would re­turn to their po­si­tions. Both are seen to be too close to the Zuma group­ing. Zok­wana ruf­fled feath­ers re­cently af­ter he de­fended Zuma in Par­lia­ment.

Ma­paila said it was im­por­tant for mem­bers to ap­pre­ci­ate Nz­i­mande’s sac­ri­fice, having taken over from slain leader Chris Hani. “In the quest for re­newal, you don’t deal with what is work­ing. The re­newal must reach out to new av­enues and make the or­gan­i­sa­tion adapt­able to chang­ing con­di­tions, while re­tain­ing its prin­ci­ples. That is what our mem­bers must ap­pre­ci­ate, that we are bring­ing to them a united or­gan­i­sa­tion un­der the lead­er­ship of Com­rade Blade,” he said.

He was com­fort­able be­ing an or­di­nary mem­ber, mak­ing a con­tri­bu­tion in his own way within a col­lec­tive.

He re­called how at some point he was re­ferred to as a Nz­i­mande lackey, adding that he had no qualms about that be­cause he con­sid­ered him among the “best the SACP has had”.

Solly Ma­paila

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