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SOUTH AFRICA’S communists resolved in principle at the weekend during their 14th national congress in Boksburg to contest elections separately from their African National Congress revolutionary alliance partner.
The alliance brings together the ANC, SACP, trade union federation Cosatu and the Sanco civics organisation, but anger over corruption at the highest levels of the ANC has stoked existing fires within the SACP that the party should stand in its own right.
Second deputy general secretary Chris “Che” Matlhako, who was elected for the first time at the congress, stressed that “the exact modality in which we do so needs to be determined by way of concrete analysis and through the process of active engagement with worker and progressive formations.”
The SACP is unlikely to contest the 2019 general election and has pledged to consult its alliance partners and other progressive forces before standing separately.
Re-elected general secretary Blade Nzimande highlighted ongoing failure by the ANC to consult its allies properly, warning: “The alliance mode of operation is incapable of holding together the alliance any further.”
He pointed out that the party had not yet engaged the trade unions seriously on the elections issue.
“The Communist Party can never make a decision to contest when we don’t have a very firm backing from Cosatu and workers. We can’t just go and say: ‘We are contesting. Come’,” said Mr Nzimande.
“We need to have a very structured discussion to say: ‘Congress has this feeling, what are your views?’”
First deputy general secretary and Deputy Transport Minister Jeremy Cronin, who stepped down from his party post, said that there was uncertainty over the future of the ANC, which is deeply divided over replacing President Jacob Zuma.
He drew attention to the socalled “premier league” of three ANC provincial premiers accused of corruption and cronyism, asking: “What happens if the premier league slate wins through hook or crook? Is there a massive split in the ANC?
“It would be very hard for the majority of us to remain in ANC positions under gangster leadership and the same will be felt by many within the ANC,” he said.
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