Sasco not gunning for Nzimande

Johannesburg - The SA Students' Congress on Monday distanced itself from a reported campaign to oust Blade Nzimande as general secretary of the SA Communist Party.

"We will not, and will never, as an organisation, be involved in a campaign to oust or elect Blade Nzimande or anybody for that matter as general secretary of the SACP," Sasco president Mbulelo Mandlana said in a statement.

Mandlana was responding to a report in the Sunday Independent that pressure was mounting in the ruling alliance for Nzimande to relinquish his position as general secretary of the SACP.

According to the report, the plan to remove Nzimande was "understood" to have the backing of his detractors in the SACP, the Congress of SA Trade Unions, the ANC, the ANC Youth League (ANCYL) and the SA Students’ Congress (Sasco).

Nzimande is also the minister of higher education, and is a member of the ANC's national executive committee and its national working committee.

"... As an organisation, we have no business entering into the internal affairs of the SACP, Cosatu, ANCYL, YCL, ANC or any other fraternal structure for that matter," Sasco said on Monday.

"It is not permissible that our structures should be used by anybody to drive a campaign against the SACP general secretary using student struggles as a platform."

Anonymous agents

Mandlana appealed to SACP members to stop speaking to the media as "anonymous agents", referring to an earlier report in the paper that Sasco's free education campaign was "being used to put pressure on Nzimande in an anti-communist campaign".

"Sasco has been engaged in the campaign for free education long before Nzimande even became minister of higher education.

"... We are convinced that this sudden attempt to portray us as an organisation abusing its role is an attempt to derail our struggle for free education.

"The actual conspiracy here is to divert public attention from our free education campaign into some other arena that has nothing and will never have anything to do with our organisation."

The Sunday Independent report quoted SACP spokesperson Malesela Maleka, a key Nzimande ally, as saying the party was "aware" of a "campaign to discredit" Nzimande.

Nzimande is facing a backlash for being "uncritical" of the presidency on the issue of the relationship between President Jacob Zuma and the Guptas, the report said.

Cosatu and the SACP will elect new leaders next year, just months before the ANC's national elective conference.

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