Com­mu­nists at cross­roads

The Star Early Edition - - OPINION & ANALYSIS -

THE SACP is hold­ing its 14th na­tional con­gress in Boks­burg this week – and gen­eral sec­re­tary Blade Nz­i­mande was quick to throw down the gaunt­let.

Hot on the heels of the ANC’s na­tional pol­icy con­fer­ence last week, Nz­i­mande pulled no punches when he spoke of the still unan­swered tsunami of email reve­la­tions point­ing to state cap­ture at the high­est or­gans of govern­ment – right into the bo­som of Pres­i­dent Ja­cob Zuma’s own fam­ily.

He was scathing too of how the Gupta fam­ily have brazenly sub­orned demo­cratic in­sti­tu­tions to slake their par­a­sitic greed.

In­deed, we can ex­pect more of the same from this week’s con­gress as many of the ANC stal­warts who were vil­i­fied last week are given pride of place and in­vited to ad­dress the com­rades, as well as del­e­gates from Save South Africa.

But the SACP will not pull out of the al­liance with the frac­tured ANC and the per­ilously weak­ened Cosatu; in­stead, it will ask them to get rid of Zuma.

The SACP could not have been more pointed in its an­tipa­thy to Zuma than it al­ready has – by dis­invit­ing him from de­liv­er­ing one of the key­note speeches – an unimag­in­able snub even 12 months ago – in­stead ask­ing Deputy Pres­i­dent Cyril Ramaphosa to speak in his stead. But is it enough? The SACP has long fought well above its weight, be­ing rep­re­sented in govern­ment since the first hal­cyon days of demo­cratic lib­er­a­tion, yet never fight­ing an elec­tion on its own. Nz­i­mande him­self has reigned un­op­posed as gen­eral sec­re­tary for 19 years; in­deed, he was once one of Zuma’s most fer­vent sup­port­ers.

For many South Africans, though, the SACP al­ways seems to man­age to deftly tip­toe through a mine­field of con­flict, talk­ing so­cial­ism but walk­ing cap­i­tal­ism, com­pro­mis­ing on prin­ci­ple for the prag­ma­tism of re­main­ing in govern­ment.

By its own ac­count, it can no longer be party to a govern­ment so ob­vi­ously cap­tured, cor­rupt and in­im­i­cal to its mem­bers’ in­ter­ests – it will drum out this mes­sage con­tin­u­ously over the next few days.

So what will it ac­tu­ally do to be­come part of the so­lu­tion – and stop the rot?

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