Nz­i­mande: Yes, I was wrong about Zuma

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

It took SA Com­mu­nist Party (SACP) gen­eral secretary Blade Nz­i­mande years to painstak­ingly ad­mit and re­gret the po­lit­i­cal de­ci­sions that en­abled a ques­tion­able char­ac­ter be­ing elected pres­i­dent.

In the lead-up to the ANC’s 2007 Polok­wane con­fer­ence, the SACP and Cosatu led a cam­paign for Pres­i­dent Ja­cob Zuma to top­ple for­mer pres­i­dent Thabo Mbeki.

“Had we known cer­tain things we know now, we would have acted dif­fer­ently. That’s what I’m pre­pared to say. I don’t want to talk as if I’m speak­ing in para­bles, but had we known that our rev­o­lu­tion and our strug­gle were go­ing to be handed over to an im­mi­grant In­dian fam­ily go­ing by the name of Gupta, we would have be­haved dif­fer­ently.

“We would not have thought that Zuma was the right per­son to lead the ANC and to lead the al­liance or the coun­try, for that mat­ter,” he said.

Nz­i­mande, now com­pletely iso­lated from Zuma’s in­ner cir­cle, told City Press that he felt be­trayed by Zuma’s links with the Gupta fam­ily. He was dis­gusted at “their ex­pec­ta­tion to be handed over our SOEs [state-owned en­ti­ties] and take our money to Dubai”.

“Out of all fam­i­lies Zuma could choose,” lamented Nz­i­mande, list­ing a plethora of promi­nent fam­i­lies who con­trib­uted to the fight against op­pres­sion, “why as­so­ciate with the Gup­tas?”

How­ever, Nz­i­mande ad­mit­ted that hind­sight was not an ex­act sci­ence.

“You make choices in politics and you make mis­takes along the way... The most im­por­tant thing is, if you made a mis­take, iden­tify it and be pre­pared to cor­rect it,” he said.

He said that wrong po­lit­i­cal de­ci­sions, which he was party to, had been made over the last 15 years or so, but that there were cer­tain de­ci­sions he still stood by. Among those were the fights against pri­vati­sa­tion along­side sacked Cosatu boss Zwelinz­ima Vavi and the use of state or­gans to fight po­lit­i­cal bat­tles.

Nz­i­mande, Vavi and Zuma were once an un­break­able trio that sang from the same hymn book, preach­ing unity and co­her­ence af­ter Mbeki’s oust­ing. This sol­i­dar­ity soon fiz­zled out and hos­til­i­ties height­ened af­ter Zuma’s re-elec­tion for a sec­ond term in Man­gaung in 2012.

Nz­i­mande’s re­cent U-turn on Zuma has been at­trib­uted to the last time Zuma reshuf­fled his Cab­i­net, when threats that he may be axed emerged. He has de­nied this, as well as spec­u­la­tion that he was stay­ing on in his po­si­tion in the SACP be­cause of un­cer­tainty on whether he will be de­ployed to Cab­i­net should a can­di­date backed by Zuma – in this in­stance, Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma – win the ANC’s De­cem­ber elec­tive con­fer­ence.

Re­cently, even those within his own party claim that he may be try­ing to strike a deal with Deputy Pres­i­dent Cyril Ramaphosa, who is cam­paign­ing for the ANC’s top job with five other can­di­dates.

Nz­i­mande said he was “not short of work to do out­side of Cab­i­net”. He said be­ing gen­eral secretary did not guar­an­tee him a Cab­i­net post and that “peo­ple were tak­ing things too far”.

“It is an hon­our to serve in Cab­i­net, I’m not go­ing to deny that, but I’m not short of work to do. I’m do­ing this be­cause it’s one of the high­est ser­vices that any in­di­vid­ual can of­fer to his or her own coun­try.

“I don’t want to speak as if I’m boast­ing, but my late mother took me to school. That’s why I en­cour­age young peo­ple to go to school so that you will never be de­pen­dent on any­body... No one will dan­gle a po­si­tion in front of me and think that they will be able to con­trol me, never,” he said.

Vavi’s new trade union fed­er­a­tion has snubbed many of­fers to meet with the SACP for talks on form­ing a broad front that would see the power in the hands of the ANC sig­nif­i­cantly re­duced.

Last week, the SACP took a de­ci­sion to con­test elec­tions in­de­pen­dently from the ANC amid much pres­sure from its mem­bers. But it failed to in­di­cate ex­actly when this would hap­pen, if not in 2019 – a door-die elec­tion year with the op­po­si­tion lin­ing up to reap the ben­e­fits of the ANC’s mul­ti­ple own goals.

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