SACP AVERTS a cri­sis

Eleventh-hour drama at com­mu­nist party’s na­tional con­fer­ence as Ma­paila al­most steps down. Also, the party ‘may or may not’ con­test the 2019 gen­eral elec­tion

CityPress - - Front Page - HLENGIWE NHLABATHI and S’THEMBILE CELE news@city­press.co.za

The SA Com­mu­nist Party (SACP) has taken a res­o­lu­tion to sup­port con­test­ing power by it­self, but the res­o­lu­tion is worded in a way that al­lows for the pos­si­bil­ity that this may not take place at all, de­pend­ing on “con­crete anal­y­sis and re­al­i­ties”. The res­o­lu­tion reads: “Af­ter con­sid­er­able de­bate at congress, we have re­solved that, while the SACP will cer­tainly con­test elec­tions, the ex­act modal­ity in which we do so needs to be de­ter­mined by way of a con­crete anal­y­sis of the con­crete re­al­ity and through the process of ac­tive en­gage­ment with worker and pro­gres­sive for­ma­tions.”

City Press un­der­stands that there was an agree­ment to con­test the 2019 elec­tions, but that the party would in all like­li­hood wait to see what hap­pens at the ANC’s elec­tive con­fer­ence in De­cem­ber. The party is con­cerned about in­for­ma­tion that the Zuma camp could “steal” the con­fer­ence from the Cyril Ramaphosa lobby group. The deputy pres­i­dent is seen to be en­joy­ing pop­u­lar sup­port at the mo­ment.

Not for the first time, most del­e­gates pushed for the SACP to step out of the ANC shadow and exit the tri­par­tite al­liance. How­ever, party lead­ers warned against “emo­tional de­ci­sions” and wanted the sit­u­a­tion as­sessed first be­fore a fi­nal res­o­lu­tion.

The SACP will also give it­self time to con­sult with the ANC and to try to win over work­ers’ sup­port.

SACP gen­eral sec­re­tary Blade Nz­i­mande yes­ter­day said that the party may or may not con­test elec­tions.

He said it was up to the spe­cial na­tional congress next year to over­turn or en­dorse the de­ci­sion, and to also elab­o­rate on its modal­i­ties.

The party also averted a cri­sis when deputy gen­eral sec­re­tary Solly Ma­paila was per­suaded at the eleventh hour not to step down.

Re­peated chants of Ma­paila’s name re­ver­ber­ated Would you vote for the SACP if it broke away from the ANC? SMS us on 35697 us­ing the key­word SACP and tell us what you think. Please in­clude your name and prov­ince. SMSes cost R1.50 through the venue of the six-day con­fer­ence, which be­gan on Mon­day. Some of­fi­cials be­lieved he had or­ches­trated the chants him­self and de­manded that he de­nounce the calls for him to suc­ceed Nz­i­mande.

In a move that shocked del­e­gates, an emo­tional Ma­paila took to the podium and said he would not avail him­self for any po­si­tions, in­clud­ing the one he held at the time, which was that of sec­ond deputy gen­eral sec­re­tary. Ma­paila’s pop­u­lar­ity has grown in re­cent months, fol­low­ing his tough talk against the Gup­tas and Pres­i­dent Ja­cob Zuma.

In­sid­ers al­lege that Ma­paila had been told to tone down his stance as it was mak­ing things awk­ward for SACP mem­bers who served in ANC struc­tures, such as the na­tional ex­ec­u­tive com­mit­tee.

“Solly rep­re­sented a wind of change; they had to block him,” said an SACP in­sider.

“Re­mem­ber that he does not owe any­one in the ANC any­thing and is not em­bed­ded in the ANC fac­tions, which is what the SACP needs now.”

Fol­low­ing Ma­paila’s an­nounce­ment dur­ing the ple­nary ses­sion, an emer­gency meet­ing of the party’s of­fi­cials was con­vened in a des­per­ate at­tempt to con­vince him to stay.

“Solly is dis­ci­plined, but he was fu­ri­ous in that meet­ing and he took them to task,” said the in­sider.

Nz­i­mande was re-elected, un­con­tested, to his po­si­tion as SACP gen­eral sec­re­tary this week, hav­ing served in that role for 18 years.

This is de­spite hav­ing con­fided in some in the party as early as last year that he was tired and that “Solly is the fu­ture”.

Speak­ing to City Press, Ma­paila said: “I ad­mit that I with­drew my name on the ba­sis that some com­rades in some prov­inces were try­ing to in­sist that there must be a con­test for the po­si­tion of gen­eral sec­re­tary, us­ing my name with­out talk­ing to me. I felt that was not right. Se­condly, I had made it clear that I wasn’t avail­able. That is the point that I stood up to raise. I said I was will­ing to with­draw from stand­ing for any lead­er­ship po­si­tions so that the party could re­main united [and] not [be] di­vided by un­nec­es­sary am­bi­tions. It is not be­cause I was an­gry with any­body, I was re­spond­ing to the mood of the congress [where] com­rades were be­gin­ning to be ill-dis­ci­plined, chant­ing my name, which is not some­thing that is done in the party.”

There is a grow­ing feel­ing among some in the SACP that the cur­rent man­age­ment of suc­ces­sion, which is de­ter­mined by higher struc­tures, un­der­mines the demo­cratic process.

In an in­ter­view with City Press this week, the party’s for­mer first deputy gen­eral sec­re­tary, Jeremy Cronin, ad­mit­ted that the SACP’s lead­er­ship had been clumsy in deal­ing with suc­ces­sion.

“I think it is a huge achieve­ment that we have man­aged [lead­er­ship] in the good sense, and per­haps in the less good sense, that we have man­aged over this long haul since 1990,” he said.

“There is clearly im­pa­tience from some quar­ters around the need for a bit more re­newal than we have seen com­ing out of this con­fer­ence.

“Even Blade said that the in­com­ing cen­tral ex­ec­u­tive com­mit­tee must open up this dis­cus­sion, so that it is not a dis­cus­sion that oc­curs in cor­ners or is man­aged by pro­vin­cial sec­re­taries, and so on.

“But we must take col­lec­tive and col­le­gial re­spon­si­bil­ity for how we think about it.”

It has also emerged that Nz­i­mande may not serve his full term. It is un­der­stood that he could step down at a spe­cial congress early next year, paving the way for Ma­paila to take over the reins.

PHOTO: TEBOGO LETSIE

RED SEA SACP mem­bers at the party’s na­tional congress this week

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