‘SACP is weak on the ground’

The Star Early Edition - - POLITICS - GE­ORGE MATLALA

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

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