The South African Communist Party will not be aloof when it comes to the ANC’s December elective conference because the future of the tripartite alliance and that of the country hinges on it.
But at the same time, the party was also not prepared to repeat the same mistake of investing all its energies and expectations on a particular outcome as was the case in Polokwane.
Doing so “would be foolhardy and irresponsible”, according to a secretariat political report presented by the party’s general secretary, Blade Nzimande, at the SACP’s first central committee meeting, which came to an end on Saturday.
Titled “the revolution has entered unchartered waters, if not a whirlpool”, the political report obtained by City Press bemoans the serious political and moral deterioration in the ANC and outlines various scenarios of where the wind might blow in December and the impact thereof.
• A shootout at congress where the winner takes all and where “the parasitic bourgeoisie” emerges victorious largely by stealing the conference, leading to a possibility of the collapse of the alliance and implosion of the ANC itself;
• A coalition of centre-left-forces wins, possibly leading to a more favourable context for rebuilding the ANC and the alliance;
• A compromise deal between the two major slates, as proposed by President Jacob Zuma, which will likely perpetuate the current leadership paralysis and weaken the prospects of maintaining the alliance and the winning of elections in 2019; and
• A victory of a third, outside candidate, with all kinds of possible and indeterminate outcomes and implications for the alliance; and
• The last scenario cited by Nzimande when he delivered the report, is that of a conference failing to sit in December or is “deliberately imploded” because one faction senses that it will not win and it will be exposed to criminal prosecution. This appears to be a veiled attack on Zuma’s preferred candidate Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma.
The significance of the December conference was one point of debate at the SACP congress.
Through its own admission in the report, it was not entirely resolved, including the implications for its roadmap towards contesting the elections.
But the SACP was clear that it could not hold itself ransom by the uncertainty of the ANC conference.
“The SACP cannot stand aloof from the December process, but there is much that we must do in any case and which must help to advance, deepen and defend the National Democratic Revolution regardless of the outcomes of the ANC’s December conference,” it said.
In particular, it said, the SACP must build on the momentum by continuing to play a vanguard role in the anti-state-capture mass mobilisation.
“But to do this, we need to build better connections between the anti-corruption struggle and the immediate problems confronting the working class and poor.”
The central committee meeting took place after the party’s 14th national congress at which it took a decision to contest the elections independently.
The report painted a picture of an ANC that continued to score own goals and, for the first time, was faced with the prospects of losing the elections in 2019, depending on how things played out in the next four months.
Ultimately, the national democratic revolution was in danger, read the report.
This was fuelled by factionalism that had riddled the ANC at a leadership level and contributed to the party becoming increasingly remote from the crises confronting the popular masses; the capturing of some key strategic sites within the state by predatory accumulation interests; a weakened trade union movement not only battered by retrenchments and restructuring, but also marred by business-related factionalism and poverty and personal insecurity in communities who were effectively leaderless
“The ANC (and therefore the alliance in its current configuration) are liable also to suffer serious electoral defeats.”
As such, the party was forced to play a leading and vanguard role in a manner that has not happened before.
The report warned that “over investment in December expectations is a mistake that some of the better ANC leadership comrades appear to be making”.
The report stated that recent developments confirmed that the revolution had entered a whirlpool and there might be no return.
The next few days will see the SACP up the ante on calls for President Jacob Zuma to institute a Judicial Commission of Inquiry and for those implicated in wrongdoing to be dealt with.
It wanted to march on the National Prosecuting Authority.
“In the coming days and weeks, we must also not fall into the trap of awaiting a never-to-be-appointed Judicial Commission of Inquiry. While demanding its appointment, we should also march on the NPA demanding action against those so obviously implicated in wrongdoing – why wait for a Judicial Commission?”
In addition, the party intended to embark on campaigns in communities on an ongoing basis, starting from this month, to lay the ground for 2019 and beyond.
The report was firm that the communists needed to think of innovative ways of engaging communities for mobilisation, including for electoral purposes, by using cheaper methods with maximum impact.
“It may as well be that we study electioneering methods that rely on intensive contact with the mass of our people, without running glossy and expensive electoral campaigns,” read the report, which also suggested that the ANC may be damaged beyond repair.
The meeting adopted a roadmap or programme of action towards its electoral ambitions which it was going to present to the ANC today.
That roadmap would give direction to the party over the next 12 to 24 months. The SACP augmented central committee would formally adopt the road map in December, but by that time, some work would have been done.
Cosatu’s looming mass action against state capture was also set to be used as a building block towards forming a patriotic front and a popular front, which may or “may not assume a 2019 electoral reform”.
SACP first deputy general secretary Solly Mapaila said they would use today’s bilateral meeting with the ANC officials to reiterate its call for Zuma to resign, a move set to heighten tensions.
Not only that, the SACP, which City Press understands requested the meeting last week, would express its unhappiness on the ANC’s decision to discipline MPs who defied the ANC’s mandate to save Zuma in the motion of no confidence debate and would formally inform the governing party of its intention to contest elections independently.
The party has previously declined to meet the ANC for a bilateral insisting that an alliance political council be convened instead.
They were angered after the previous political council was cancelled by the ANC because Zuma took a tough stance and persuaded other ANC top officials that it was pointless to sit in a meeting with the SACP and Cosatu if they were not prepared to listen to him anywhere else.
This happened after they Zuma barred from attending any of their gatherings and have called for him to step down.
ANC secretary-general Gwede Mantashe was left to convey this “clarity seeking” position to alliance secretaries who considered the unilateral decision to cancel that meeting as a sign of disrespect.
It’s understood that the SACP told ANC last week that despite the bilateral, it still wanted that alliance political council to take place.