It took a lot of effort to convince an angry Solly Mapaila to accept nomination for a position in the South African Communist Party’s top structure.
But when he finally agreed to serve, there was much relief and excitement from his supporters. He had earlier shocked them with the announcement that he was throwing in the towel and withdrew his name from nomination for any position.
“Yes I accept the nomination,” he said after moments of anticipation from delegates, who erupted in song and a thunderous applause.
Mapaila was elected as the SACP’s new first deputy general yesterday, after a marathon meeting in which senior leaders had to calm the tension and convince him to stay.
City Press heard that Mapaila’s decision not to contest came after he was forced to dissuade his supporters from singing because this caused divisions at the congress.
“He took to the podium as congress was about to break for lunch and told us he would not avail himself for any position and wished [general secretary Blade] Nzimande and the incoming leadership well,” said a delegate.
But his change of heart last night was welcomed as one after the other queued to congratulate him.
Mapaila replaced Jeremy Cronin who this week announced he was putting the brakes on his 23-year old tenure.
Mapaila has become so popular within the SACP’s own ranks that there was silent lobbying for him take over from Blade Nzimande, who has been in that position for 19 years.
Mapaila told City Press last week he would never contest a man he considered his mentor.
Nzimande was retained in his position last night.
Others who retained their positions were chairperson Senseni Zokwana, deputy chairperson Thulas Nxesi, and Joyce Moloi-Moropa was re-elected as treasurer.
There is only one new face in the top brass. Chris Matlhako from the Northern Cape was elected unopposed as second deputy general secretary. This position was previously held by Mapaila.