Gwede: I did SACP wrong

2012-07-12 10:04

Outgoing SA Communist Party (SACP) chairperson Gwede Mantashe has admitted he had done a “disservice” to the communist party for trying to be chairperson while he was also ANC secretary-general, a full-time position.

Opening the SACP conference at the University of Zululand in KwaDlangezwa near Richards Bay today, Mantashe gave a farewell speech of sorts to the almost 2 000 delegates attending the four-day gathering.

“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,” he said.

But he admitted stepping down wasn’t an easy decision. “Being a member of the party for this length of time makes one appreciate that such a membership is a prestige and a privilege.

“It is not something you can walk away from. It is prestigious. It is nice, you feel good. You can’t walk away. When I was elected in the ANC there were a number of delegates saying to me ‘resign from your position’ (in the SACP).”

Mantashe said his stepping down wasn’t an ideological decision, but a “practical consideration”.

Senzeni Zokwana from the National Union of Mineworkers – where Mantashe comes from – is expected to step up to Mantashe’s position.

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

City Press has learnt that Mantashe had tried to step down from his SACP position mid-way 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 told the gathering despite the difficulties, his two positions “provided us with a broader horizon from which we could observe each individual component of our revolution”.

He said “there is today a deeper understanding of the contradictions in the movement”.

He said he was “grateful” for this opportunity.

“These were five wonderful years of learning, unequalled to any in my experience,” he said.
Mantashe joked that journalists were “disappointed that there are no unsavoury battles in this congress”.

He said: “They are digging. It is not going to work. To create controversy they will try to describe it as a driver for Mangaung, to say those elected are a boost or a setback for Zuma.”

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

The SACP has shown support for Zuma’s leadership and are expected to support him for a second term at the ANC’s elective congress in Mangaung in December.

The conference this morning started about two hours late 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, conference organisers said.

But City Press has also learnt that there were problems with registration, which went on until the early morning hours today, with some people complaining that their tags did not scan properly.

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