‘SACP is weak on the ground’
THE SACP has conceded that the desire to be in government could be one of the reasons why the party’s branches were weak and absent in community struggles.
SACP general secretary Blade Nzimande challenged delegates at the party’s 14th congress yesterday to talk about whether their branches were functioning properly in the communities.
The party also had to have an awkward and often uncomfortable debate on whether the deployment of its senior officials – including Nzimande – into President Jacob Zuma’s cabinet had weakened or strengthened the SACP.
The debate will be held against the backdrop of behindthe-scenes “management” to ensure Nzimande’s re-election for the fifth five-year term (he was first elected in 1998) did not lead to a revolt from the branches.
Delivering a political report at the Birchwood Hotel in Boksburg, Nzimande said the branches of the ANC and the SA National Civic Organisation were as weak as those of his own party.
He said community struggles was one area where the party and its alliance partners were lacking and actually regressing, despite the fact that the branch formations should be “highly” organised in the communities.
Cosatu’s community-based shop steward councils had almost disappeared, Nzimande pointed out.
“The question that faces this congress is where are our branches and civic formations and what is their role? For the SACP, in particular, the question is where are our voting district-based branches? Are they functioning? Nzimande asked.
“It looks like our branches are not acting as catalysts for community mobilisation or building dynamic and organic relations between themselves and other community initiatives,” he said.
“Could it be that our branches are more consumed by matters of (candidate) lists, annual general meetings, conferences and congresses, and not dynamically rooted in our communities?” Nzimande asked.
He and the party’s officials had come under fire from certain quarters for the decision to allow senior officials of the SACP to serve in Zuma’s administration and legislatures.
The move was informed by a decision as far back as 2006/2007 that leaders of the SACP had to be represented in all key sites of power, including the state, civil society, media and academia.
But Nzimande and his allies have been criticised for using the move to get into government. Former Cosatu boss Zwelinzima Vavi and his allies in the metalworkers’ union Numsa had a big fallout with Nzimande on the issues of deployment into the state.
Yesterday, Nzimande defended the communists in Zuma’s administration and also warned that they would not take the firing of their North West provincial secretary Madoda Sambatha from the North West cabinet by Premier Supra Mahumapelo, a target of the SACP.
“While these comrades serve under an ANC mandate in the first instance, over several recent congresses we have resolved to establish more effective party accountability structures and party discussion forums in the legislatures,” Nzimande said.
In practice there has been uneven and often weak implementation of these decisions,” he said in the report.
“However, the outgoing central committee has ensured that all SACP members serving in the national executive as ministers and deputy ministers have reported on their work to the party’s central committee.
“It is our view that overall, SACP members serving in the national executive have acquitted themselves generally well, while some have been targeted and demoted for refusing to bow to illicit pressures.”
Community struggles is one area where alliance is failing