Monday, June 13, 2011

SACP General Secretary Says ANC Faces 'Populist' Danger

‘Populist’ danger to ANC - Nzimande

Blade Nzimande takes a swipe at ANC Youth League leader Julius Malema and trade union boss Zwelinzima Vavi

South African Business Day
Published: 2011/06/13 06:38:33 AM

SOUTH African Communist Party (SACP) general secretary Blade Nzimande took a swipe at African National Congress (ANC) Youth League leader Julius Malema and trade union boss Zwelinzima Vavi yesterday, warning of the danger populists posed in the ruling party.

Without mentioning them by name, Mr Nzimande told a press briefing in Johannesburg that Mr Malema’s racial rhetoric had cost the ANC votes in last month’s election, and labelled Mr Vavi’s warnings about the direction the country was taking "sensational".

Mr Nzimande’s comments confirm cracks within the tripartite alliance as leaders juggle for positions ahead of elective conferences for all alliance partners next year.

Mr Nzimande is a staunch supporter of President Jacob Zuma , while Mr Malema and Mr Vavi have recently been critical of the ANC under Mr Zuma. Mr Vavi admitted the bad relations between alliance partners in a report published by the Sunday Times yesterday.

Although Mr Nzimande said the SACP would not interfere in the ANC’s democratic process, he is expected to back Mr Zuma in Mangaung should he be re-elected as SACP boss next year. The SACP will hold leadership elections next year, ahead of the ANC’s own elections. There is growing speculation that there is also serious lobbying for Mr Nzimande’s position. Mr Vavi has been touted as an interested party.

Mr Nzimande has been criticised by Mr Vavi and other Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu)-affiliated unions for accepting the Cabinet post as higher education minister, saying such a deployment has weakened the SACP. The SACP has become too soft and too close to the government, critics say.

Mr Nzimande has defended his deployment, saying denying communists access to state power was a "an apartheid thing". He said the SACP was not a nongovernmental organisation, but a political party that is interested in state power.

Asked about Mr Vavi’s warning in a political report prepared for the Cosatu central committee meeting to be held later this month, Mr Nzimande said alliance leaders should avoid being drawn into sensationalism.

"We are a ruling alliance. We have enormous challenges. Why should we be diverted by sensational issues in the media or want to be sensational?" he said.

According to the Sunday Times report, Mr Vavi warned that SA could become a banana republic and that relations in the alliance had deteriorated. Mr Nzimande denied this, saying "the alliance is functioning but there are serious challenges in some provinces".

In what could be conceived as supporting suggestions that Mr Malema’s racial rhetoric cost the ANC votes, Mr Nzimande said "narrow nationalist chauvinists" had tarnished the image of alliance and cost the ANC votes.

"This demagogy constitutes the greatest threat, not just to our electoral performance, but also to our hard-won democratic achievements as a country in general."

Though the ANC received 63% support in the local government election, support for the party dwindled. Some have attributed this to Mr Malema’s racial talk during the campaign, but he has denied this.

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