SACP mulls divorce

2016-11-06 06:05
Blade Nzimande (File, City Press)

Blade Nzimande (File, City Press)

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Endemic corruption, visible divisions in national leadership, “parasitic looting”, manipulation of internal elections and the ANC’s insistence on keeping a “deeply flawed” President Jacob Zuma as its public face are among the factors spurring a renewed push for the SA Communist Party (SACP) to go it alone in coming elections.

An SACP discussion document spells out the urgent need to identify itself outside of the ANC.

The document reveals that the governing party’s alliance partner is highly concerned with how “dangerously sick” large parts of ANC have become.

Titled More Than Ever the SACP Has a Leadership Duty in the NDR (National Democratic Revolution), the paper is one of a series prepared for discussion ahead of the party’s July elective congress next year. Besides the scheduled stepping aside of long-serving general-secretary Blade Nzimande and other veterans, the party is expected to make what could be a historic decision to contest elections independently.

Such a decision would see the SACP field its own candidates in municipal by-elections and then submit its own list to the Independent Electoral Commission in the 2019 general elections. Until now, SACP members have run on an ANC ticket at all levels.

The pressure to contest elections has been building since the early 2000s, but the leadership has been able to keep a lid on it by setting up committees and deferring discussions. It died down after the SACP – together with other ANC alliance structures – engineered the ascendancy of Zuma, whom the communists expected to champion leftist policies. But now the party feels betrayed by Zuma and bemoans the rise in factional groupings such as the so-called Premier League on his watch.

The debate on going it alone was resuscitated at the consultative congress in July, where it resolved to reassign the State Power Commission.

Guptarisation of the state

The hard-hitting paper is scathing about the symptomatic problems facing the ANC, including what it has termed the “Guptarisation of the state”, which refers to parasitic behaviour by individuals leeching on government departments and entities. It also hits out at the “endemic corruption and corporate capture of much of the ANC’s institutional machinery”.

“While there were some good comrades, reckless and parasitic forces have managed to colonise large parts of the organisation,” reads the document.

It says the ability of the ANC “to embark on serious self-correction is uncertain” and the ANC’s national conference next December may therefore not be able to provide impetus for change.

Flawed personality cult

Zuma is also directly blamed for the “sobering” outcome of the August 3 local elections in which the ANC lost control of the Tshwane, Johannesburg and Nelson Mandela Bay metros, and saw support plummet to 54%.

“The decision to run the ANC election campaign around the person of ... Zuma also clearly cost the ANC many votes. Opinion polls suggest ... Zuma has a national approval rating in the lower 20% – far lower than that of the ANC itself,” it reads.

“Where else in the world would a political party contesting a competitive election choose to build its campaign around a deeply flawed personality cult?” asks the SACP paper.

The party decries “the systematic, money-driven factionalism” from the top to lower structures.

“This results in brazen manipulation of internal elections, membership lists and deployments,” it says.

The move to weigh future options was further reignited by the “wilful bypassing” of ANC and Cabinet-mandated positions by individuals in government during Zuma’s tenure.

These include the SAA crisis, digital migration, nuclear energy and Mineral Resources Minister Mosebenzi Zwane’s “task team” on banks that had blacklisted the Gupta family.

It also speaks of a “climate of extreme recklessness” in many parastatals, in government and in the ANC. The paper says there has been little willingness or capacity to deal with corruption, factionalism, growing social distance from our mass base and the “sins of incumbency”. The party says that while the flourishing of parasitic behaviour dates back to the Mbeki era, it is “seriously more advanced and dangerous”.

No God-given right to lead

The party is aware that it will not necessarily govern in 2019, but that it could use the electoral space to mobilise support.

Obtaining a small share of the vote could help it to position itself to have some sort of “deal maker” impact in governance, much like the Economic Freedom Fighters.

Another option to be discussed by structures is for SACP members to contest ward elections with a view to forming post-election council coalitions. But given the level of tensions and assassinations seen during candidate nomination processes, achieving such a “gentleman’s agreement” with the ANC would not be easy.

Yet another option touted in the paper is that members stick to the current dual membership, which will result in members participating in ANC structures as full members.

But it flags a danger: the party losing its identity, being co-opted and treated as “second-class” ANC members.

“We need to understand that the ANC does not have some God-given right to eternally lead the NDR.

“We need to recognise that at different times during its generally proud and heroic existence, the ANC has been largely missing in action,” says the SACP.

Read more on:    sacp  |  anc  |  politics

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