Nzimande: Yes, I was wrong about Zuma
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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