Ground­hog Day at the SACP congress

CityPress - - Voices & Careers -

The SA Com­mu­nist Party (SACP) just never learns. This week they were de­bat­ing the same old is­sue they have in­ter­ro­gated for the past 14 years or so: whether or not they should break away from the al­liance and con­test elec­tions on their own.

As with all pre­vi­ous con­fer­ences, the branch mem­bers have been singing songs ex­press­ing their de­sire to go it alone. But the lead­er­ship is warn­ing them not to take “emo­tional de­ci­sions”.

City Press has no in­ter­est in what­ever direc­tion the party takes. But we have ob­served a pat­tern in each of the party’s con­fer­ences. Each time the is­sue of break­ing away is raised, the party de­flects by an­nounc­ing a spe­cial con­fer­ence the fol­low­ing year.

The move is, in ef­fect, to give the SACP time to ob­serve de­vel­op­ments in the ANC. The fol­low­ing year, they are likely to take a de­ci­sion that, while there is noth­ing wrong with the prin­ci­ple of con­test­ing elec­tions, the time and con­di­tions were not yet ripe for such a move.

So, pre­vi­ously the party de­cided that they would work to sup­port Pres­i­dent Ja­cob Zuma, who was seen as more sym­pa­thetic to the work­ing class. The move in­evitably ended in tears and re­crim­i­na­tion as their de­ci­sion to link their fu­ture to an in­di­vid­ual failed to bear fruit.

They are again on the verge of do­ing the same, throw­ing all their eggs in Deputy Pres­i­dent Cyril Ramaphosa’s bas­ket. The party has em­braced him, de­spite him be­ing an arch­cap­i­tal­ist. We do not know how this will end up, but clearly lessons have not been learnt.

The SACP needs to do more to de­fine its own path with­out con­comi­tantly be­ing in­ter­wo­ven into the ANC’s fac­tional pol­i­tics. Watch­ing the party keep more or less the same lead­ers as be­fore and tak­ing the same de­ci­sions as be­fore feels a bit like the film Ground­hog Day.

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