R2m to guard SACP bosses

2017-07-23 06:04
First general secretary Solly Mapaila addresses the SACP at last week’s 14th National Congress. The six-day conference took place at the Birchwood Hotel in Johannesburg. Picture: Tebogo Letsie

First general secretary Solly Mapaila addresses the SACP at last week’s 14th National Congress. The six-day conference took place at the Birchwood Hotel in Johannesburg. Picture: Tebogo Letsie

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The SA Communist Party (SACP) has, over the past five years, spent seven times more on security for its leaders across the country.

The party’s financial report, which City Press has seen, shows that just less than R2m was spent on protecting the party’s top brass in the year that ended in December. This compared with its last elective conference in 2012, when the party spent only R270 000 protecting its leaders.

The figure is astounding, given that the SACP has, over the course of time, found itself in financial distress and living off donations from sympathetic affiliates of labour federation Cosatu. While its membership has grown over the past five years, the report shows that it is still failing to attract professionals to its ranks and that current members are not contributing to the party’s coffers.

In the recent past, the party’s bosses have come under fire, with some having even received death threats, as part of existing tensions with its alliance partners, the ANC and Cosatu.

This has forced the SACP to repeatedly beef up security for its senior leaders, including its vocal first deputy general secretary Solly Mapaila, who has survived hijackings and being shot at.

Economic Freedom Fighters leader Julius Malema also recently warned Mapaila to watch his back as a result of his constant criticism of President Jacob Zuma and his links with the Gupta family.

At the commemoration ceremony of slain SACP leader Chris Hani in April, Zuma delivered a speech and left. As Mapaila was taking to the stage, an assailant was seen on video footage pulling out a gun, and then putting it back in his jacket.

SACP treasurer Joyce Moloi-Moropa received death threats from unknown people while she chaired the portfolio committee on communications in Parliament in 2015. These allegedly included attempts to force her off the road.

Moloi-Moropa, together with SACP boss Blade Nzimande, claimed in 2015 that they were “in danger for criticising the deal between the SABC and MultiChoice”.

Moloi-Moropa quit her job in Parliament last year and returned to the SACP’s headquarters.

In 2015, City Press obtained a letter of resignation she had written to ANC secretary-general Gwede Mantashe, requesting to be relieved of her duties and citing her frustration at being forced to take positions and pursue policies that were different from those of the governing party.

The SACP made it known last year that it was under siege, claiming its leaders were being followed and their phones bugged by people who Nzimande referred to as “parasites” trying to paralyse the ANC and its alliance partners.

In a recent interview with City Press, Nzimande said there was “no doubt that the security of the party leadership as a whole is under threat”.

However, he said death threats against any of them would not deter them from fighting against monopoly capital and “elements that are looting the state and weakening our capacity to deal with monopoly capital”.

So worried is the SACP that it even provides protection for Young Communist League national secretary Mluleki Dlelanga and some provincial leaders.

With mounting strain on its finances, the SACP says it plans to increase its cash reserves by establishing an endowment fund into which members, alliance partners and other interested donors can make charitable donations.

The party’s Central Committee members will be forced to contribute an amount of R100 monthly towards the fund.

“A clear campaign has to be run for the endowment fund whereby all members make an annual once-off contribution and invite unions and alliance partners to contribute at least R100 000,” reads the report.

“The fund will become a permanent endowment of financial support and a living memorial.”

The fund will not be touched until it hits the R100m mark.

The party also wants to partner with interested organisations – including civil society, think-tanks and cooperatives – to increase funding contributions.

The party’s membership figures show that it increased its support from 154 000 in 2012 to 284 554 at its congress last week. While this growth is good for the party, which has strong links to the working class, the report shows that its professional membership currently stands at just 30 758 – of which only 2 383 members contribute more than R100 monthly to the party’s coffers.

In its 2012 financials, the SACP indicated that it only received R24 000 in membership fees. No figure is given for the amount that members contributed to the party in 2016, but the communists generated revenue of R36.5m.

Of the money raised, R35m was spent on various programmes for the year, including salaries (R18.8m), travel and accommodation (R3.7m), security (R1.98m), stipends (R1.7m); leasing and hiring (R1.2m); campaigning (R758 000); and bad debt written off (R774 000).

The salary bill covers staff at head office. Provinces reflect a R10m increase from the R8m in salaries the SACP paid to staff in 2011. Under the item of administration, the report notes that the “remuneration structure of the SACP has been finalised and remuneration classes and levies concluded”.

“Managers have been employed and placed and are currently busy finalising the process in their various units/departments. The wage bill is stabilising and any expenditure around it can be accounted for to the last cent.”

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