[OPINION] SACP appreciates Ramaphosa, accuses Zuma of counter-revolution

At a media briefing following the party’s three-day central committee on Sunday, South African Communist Party (SACP) general secretary Blade Nzimande noted that the key priority for the Ramaphosa-led administration (which he is a part of) is to “dismantle the networks of parasitic looting of public resources that flourished under the patronage of former president Jacob Zuma”.

The SACP has accused Zuma of being at the heart of a “counter-revolutionary fightback” to efforts by the new administration to combat corruption and looting. They claim Zuma has not done enough to distance himself from these discredited individuals who are using his name and have vowed to fight him for as long as this persists.

The SACP has been at the forefront of the lobbying for Cyril Ramaphosa to be elected ANC President. Now that he is at the helm of the state, the party is singing from the same hymn sheet as Ramaphosa, lauding his efforts to undo the mess that he found in the state.

At a media briefing following the party’s three-day central committee on Sunday, SACP General Secretary Blade Nzimande noted that the key priority for the Ramaphosa-led administration (which he is a part of) is to “dismantle the networks of parasitic looting of public resources that flourished under the patronage of former president Jacob Zuma”. He welcomed the progress made with the replacement of boards at key state-owned entities, the shake-up at Sars, the new leadership at the Hawks and the change at the State Security Agency.

Then Nzimande turned focus, acknowledging the presence of a fightback to Ramaphosa’s clean-up strategy of the state which he accused Zuma of being at the centre of:

“KwaZulu-Natal has become a seed-bed for this counter-revolutionary agenda, but with tentacles spreading into other provinces.”

Nzimande was no doubt commenting on news that Zuma’s allies in the province under the name Mazibuyele Emasisweni have come together in the hope of forming of a political party of their own, embodying Zuma’s ideals. He was also reacting to Zuma’s utterances in which he denied State Capture, saying that ministers speaking to a family cannot be construed as State Capture.

Zuma has distanced himself from the group, saying he will not leave the ANC, but did not say anything about people who lobby in his name.

While it’s all very murky right now and Zuma’s end game is not clear, the SACP is adamant that there is something sinister at play and Zuma’s nonchalance to condemn the actions and utterances of those around him are proof of this. Responding to questions from the media, Nzimande said:

“The sentiment of the central committee is that Comrade JZ must distance himself very strongly from this. It is not enough for him to say what ‘I was taught by the ANC – I will never leave the ANC’, but people are continuing doing things in his name… like the formation of the political party. We need much more active distancing himself from that and say ‘not in my name’.”

SACP first deputy general secretary Solly Mapaila took a further dig, saying the group Zuma associates himself with since leaving office has attacked the ANC and alliance leaders. He did not name this group but said Zuma attends this group’s activities and does not speak out against them.

This group includes the controversial leader of the Black First Land First grouping, Andile Mngxitama. They have held a series of events that have become a platform for Zuma to fight back against those who pushed for his early exit from office. Mapaila reiterated Nzimande’s claim that this group is on a “counter-revolutionary offensive”, going further, saying they will defeat it.

“We have defeated him before when he attempted to sell our country to the highest bidders, even on this we will not allow him to succeed,” Mapaila said.

The term “counter-revolution” has long being bandied about by Nzimande and the Communists. For much of the last decade, ironically, the term was used to label anyone who opposed Zuma. The then Scorpions were called counter-revolutionary for raiding Zuma’s home, supporters of former president Thabo Mbeki were labelled that for starting Cope – even the media was given that title for reporting on Zuma’s political woes. In fact, one would argue that Zuma got away with all that he did because he was shielded by the “counter-revolutionary” tag against anyone who would call him out on his actions.

Three years since the political fallout between Zuma and the SACP top brass and three months since his departure from office, the SACP has firmly thrown the label of counter-revolutionary at his door. The party is even going as far as disciplining their KwaZulu-Natal leader Themba Mthembu for inviting Zuma to his budget speech in the provincial legislature. They want nothing to do with their former hero and they’re making sure everyone knows that.

Zuma’s antics in KZN since his return have been politically delinquent but to hint at an elaborate counter-revolution that is supposedly bordering on being treasonous is to do to Zuma what was done before in his name. It also reduces the serious debate about the political developments around Zuma to sound bite-sized political attacks.

The SACP, it seems, is trying hard to prove its allegiance to Ramaphosa and doing that by going out of their way to antagonise Zuma. The party’s entire approach to its demand for the reconfiguration of the alliance has changed. It went from the extreme of threatening to leave the alliance to saying now that they are committed to a united one.

Nzimande said discussions around the reconfiguration of the alliance must not be a bargaining tool or a threat to contest elections on their own – a far, far cry from his previous stance on the matter. Nzimande insists that Ramaphosa’s “New Dawn” will require an even more united alliance, so for now they will continue engaging on their demand for a reconfiguration of it.

He later said that their main demand is that they cannot all contest elections as an alliance but when it comes to key decision-making, the ANC takes charge. From Nzimande’s tone, it seems Ramaphosa is willing to give them an ear. And, it seems, that is enough for them.

This column first appeared on Daily Maverick. Go to www.dailymaverick.co.za for more comment and analysis.

Qaanitah Hunter is a senior political reporter at Eyewitness News. Follow her on Twitter: @QaanitahHunter