Gwede: I did SACP wrong

2012-07-13 00:00

OUTGOING South African Communist Party chairperson Gwede Mantashe admitted yesterday that he had done a “disservice” to the party for trying to be the chair when he was also the ANC’s full-time secretary-general.

Opening the SACP conference at the University of Zululand in KwaDlangezwa near Richards Bay yesterday, Mantashe said he did not want to continue being an absentee chairperson.

Mantashe said: “Being an official in both parties is just impossible.

“It leads a person to be an absentee chairperson in the party. That is a disservice to the party.”

Mantashe admitted that stepping down was not an easy decision but that it was for practical reasons.

“Being a member of the party for this length of time makes one appreciate that such a membership is a prestige and a privilege,” he said.

Senzeni Zokwana of the National Union of Mineworkers — where Mantashe served — is expected to step up to Mantashe’s position.

Mantashe was elected chairperson at the SACP’s conference in 2007 and six months later was elected secretary-general of the ANC.

He apparently tried to step down from his SACP position midway through his term, but because of expelled ANC Youth League leader Julius Malema’s campaign against him, which started around 2009, Mantashe couldn’t.

“This would have been seen as bowing to that pressure,” an SACP leader said.

Mantashe warned his fellow communists deployed to other positions never to be found with their hands in the till because “corruption is anti-communist”.

He said communists serving in other organisations did so neither as communist cliques or factions, nor with the intention of usurping those formations.

Before his speech Mantashe said jokingly that those who make the substitution sign — seen as opposition to a second term for President Jacob Zuma — would be “arrested with the intention to disrupt”, while those who held up two fingers, seen to be signifying two terms for Zuma, would be “welcomed”.

The conference started about two hours late yesterday morning after delegates had to make their way through the rain from the marquees on muddy sports fields to the hall where the plenary took place.

There were also problems with registration, which went on until the early hours of yesterday morning.

Some people complained that their tags did not scan properly.

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