SACP has friends in faraway places

2012-07-14 07:36

Diplomats from Cuba and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and a leader from the Communist Party of the Soviet Union are among those attending the SACP’s congress at the University of Zululand near Richards Bay.

Fifty-seven international guests travelled to KwaZulu-Natal to attend the gathering, which ends on Sunday, some of them from communist parties in other countries and some of them from embassies.

Attending were Planning Minster Trevor Manuel, whose national development plan had found support among the communists; Mining Minister Susan Shabangu, whose stance on limited nationalisation is shared by the SACP; newly appointed Deputy Higher Education Minister Mduduzi Manana; two premiers, Zweli Mkhize from KwaZulu-Natal and Noxolo Kiviet from the Eastern Cape; all while former police chief Bheki Cele hid among the delegates and tried to evade cameras.

Mkhize remarked it was the first time in the 91-year history of the SACP that the party had gathered in KZN.

The conference is attended by 275 non-voting delegates in total, which included guests, staff and representatives from alliance structures like the ANC and Cosatu.

There are 1 782 voting delegates, with KwaZulu-Natal (or Moses Mabhida, as the province is better known in the SACP) the biggest with 388 delegates at the conference, Gauteng the second with 250 delegates, Eastern Cape with 238, Mpumalanga with 232, Limpopo with 211 (74 delegates were absent), North West with 135, the Western Cape with 82, Free State with 82 and Northern Cape with 64.

Delegates are expected to use their votes on policy matters and constitutional amendments, as party officials told City Press that they are trying to get consensus on new leaders instead of going for a vote, which some fear would be divisive.

The conference got off to a slow start when electricity blackouts slowed down registration, which went on until 4.30am on Thursday.

Delegates travelled to the venue in buses, with some from the Western Cape reporting that they got lost and spent 30 hours in the bus.

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